Never did I appreciate the importance of the first minute of class more than I did this first year teaching 1:1. One of my goals as a teacher is to take the guess-work out for the kids and get them into a daily routine that they come to expect. And while I appreciate the importance of flexibility and being able to shift lessons when needed, etc., I do think that the kids really appreciate a daily routine. I don’t like to flip things on my kids last-minute because I feel that it throws them into a tailspin. I am a creature of habit, but then again, most teachers are.
With that said, there are three habits that I do on a daily basis that the kids expect from me within the first minute of class. The first does not need an iPad/Android and is a tactic that helps me and the students alike.
1) I am very fond of writing our class procedure, goals, and homework for the day on the board so that they kids can read it as they walk in. It is something that I do in my traditional classroom as well as my 1:1 classes. It is a habit that helps both the students and myself because they include reminders of what I need to accomplish for the day and any announcements that I might otherwise forget. Not surprisingly, the kids have also grown into the habit of looking for the daily goals, and if you forget to put them up one day, the kids will ask. The last reason that I do this before the class starts is because it eliminates me having to answer, “Mrs. S., what are we doing in class today?” 32 times. You know how it is. Occasionally, I will get the student who still does ask because they can’t be bothered to read the board, in which my next response is, you guessed it…”Read the board.”
2) The second tactic that the kids are expected to do when the bell rings is to close their iPad covers. At the AP reading conference that I was just at, I spent some time talking to a few other teachers about 1:1 classroom management and daily procedures with them since they were going 1:1 next year. The teacher asked if I have the kids log on to their LMS (Learning Management System aka classroom portal) to check what the goals of the day. I then told him that while I do have all of those goodies on their class portal, I also have it written on the board (as explained in the first point). I stressed to him that, at least for me, I had a more difficult time reeling in the kids after I had them read the class goals on the portal and then gaining their attention back to give further instruction. Both another 1:1 teacher and I agreed that when the bell rings, the students need to have their iPad covers closed and in front of them (or switched off if a cover is not provided).
As in a traditional classroom, 1:1 students will work at different speeds. If you tell a kid to look on the portal to read the daily goals, some students will already have the page open and ready to go, some will have already read it, and some won’t even have the machine on yet. Another issue that I have found is that it is difficult to know when each student has finished reading the goals unless you tell them to close the case cover for their machine. And I have tried that one. You will find that some finish and then just open another app and play a game while waiting for everyone else and I want to eliminate that downtime as much as possible.
3) The third thing that I do within the first minute of class is to make sure that I still interact with the kids. As much as I love the kids being able to use the machines, I do not want to eliminate the face to face interaction that I have with them. I want to start every class period asking them how their day is going, telling them what our goals are for the day, and answering any questions that they have. As a teacher, I really do value those first few minutes interacting with the class. If the first thing that I tell a student is, ‘Go to the portal and look at what we are doing today, ask me if you have any questions.” I feel as though I lose some of that daily interaction and it is more difficult to build rapport with the class throughout the year. I want to remind the kids that social face-to-face interaction trumps the use of a machine any day.
So there you go. 1 minute down, 49 more to go.