The evidence is clear…when students actively participate in class they are more engaged in learning. However, it is not just a great strategy for garnering more involvement, reducing off task behavior, and allowing teachers to check for understanding. It can also improve memory and retrieval of information. Encouraging action responses by attaching physical motions to content (gestures) can help students connect new learning to a physical motion that aids in retention of the learning. For emerging bilinguals, adding gestures that represent concepts or ideas can help make learning more comprehensible.
Active Engagement is a simple addition to classroom instruction that yields a big impact for all students. Reach out to our instructional leaders to find more ways to incorporate active engagement into your teaching: SALC teachers Debbi Holte and Gina Clark, your principal or assistant principal, district administrators, or district TOSAs.
To find practical ideas for using gestures in your classroom, read this great article: Using Gestures to Enhance Language Instruction
Also, see the Math Tool Kit (It’s not just for math teachers)
Teach Like a Champion 2.0 by Doug Lemov
Total Participation Techniques by Persida Himmele and William Himmele
Explicit Instruction by Anita Archer and Charles Hughes
Returning to school after winter break can be similar to returning to school after summer break. Students may have forgotten every day classroom routines and may not remember all of the procedures and expectations in the classroom. To settle students back into the learning environment, you can approach their first days back in much the same way as you approached them in the fall—re-teaching expectations with enthusiasm to carry your students through the remainder of the year.
- Review your attention signal and its meaning utilizing the 100% strategy. Practice having students stop an activity to direct their focus on you as soon as they hear or see your signal. Remember to set your expectations high by not moving on until 100% of your class is attentive.
- Review your classroom rules. It is best to have students tell you the classroom expectations and to then practice examples and non-examples. Remember that students are to ONLY demonstrate the positive examples.
- Review your classroom routines (using the bathroom, getting materials, how to ask for help, etc.).
- Re-teach your specific expectations for each activity and transition.
- Review your procedures for entering and exiting the classroom.
You may not need to spend as much time re-teaching your expectations as you did in the fall. However, by allocating time to re-teaching, you save yourself from losing instructional time to constant reminders and problem behaviors related to typical classroom routines. You also reestablish a positive environment and climate that makes learning optimal for all.
Teachers have a really important job. They bandage cuts and tie shoes, make phone calls home to families, answer questions that span a vast range of topics, check-in with team members and administrators, console students who are upset, encourage those they see in hallways or classrooms, and prepare their classrooms for the arrival of students…and that’s all in the first hour of the school day! What you each accomplish during the course of the day is remarkable. The depth and breadth of your work is awe-inspiring. The passion and care you pour into your work each day has an impact on students for years after they spend time in your classrooms.
We are so grateful for you and all of the experiences you bring to students throughout our district. You are important. What you do on a daily basis is valuable, life-giving, life-changing work and our students are fortunate to have you. We appreciate all that you do for students, not only in academics, but in life. Thank you for teaching kids what they need to know. We hope you all found time to relax and enjoy the break. We are excited to see what 2017 brings for Bethel!