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The following excerpt comes from What Do I Do About the Kid Who…? 50 Ways to Turn Teaching Into Learning, by Kathleen Gould Lundy (Stenhouse Publishers, 2004). The book retails for $22 and is available on the Stenhouse Web site.
This excerpt outlines two methods for establishing a positive, emotionally safe classroom climate based on clear expectations and a sound understanding of students’ knowledge and experiences of the world.
I believe that the beginning of each day is crucial to the success of everything that happens after it. Time spent checking in with your students, giving an overall schedule for the day, outlining expectations and being open to negotiation from them can set a positive tone, take away anxiety, establish clear purpose, and allow for changes, interruptions, and the teachable moment.
Setting Up a "Login Center"
Sometimes, I feel that teachers are the most rushed people in the world. There is always so much to do, to be aware of, to document, and to teach! I set up a Login Center in my classroom where students give me information and receive immediate feedback. I put a box with a slot in it at a central place in the classroom and I encourage students who have an important reason to talk to me to “login” so that I can deal with their questions or concerns. All notes from parents go into the Login Center, and all information remains private unless I have the student’s permission to talk to the class about the issue. The only stipulation is that I will look at information only if it is signed by the students. I leave the sheets beside the box. I read the login mail as early in the day as I can and respond when appropriate or when my schedule allows. I always give my students a few minutes to organize themselves once they get into the class. They go to the Login Center if they need to make an appointment or write to me about their worries and concerns. I encourage them to do this and make sure that the students have sufficient time.
Here is a sample of what I include on my login sheets:
The Login Center
Name: ___________________________Date: ____________________________
Here is my question: _________________________________________________
I am particularly worried about:_________________________________________
I need to see you today because: ________________________________________
Sharing Personal Goals and Needs
After a few days of the new school year have passed, you can have students fill in sheets on personal goals and needs so that you will know a little more about them. They can work alone or in pairs. Ask them to respond to these prompts:
You can use the information obtained in a variety of ways. You can program for this kind of information, work hard to design groups that will have members that support one another, and work to find support for individuals who need help in reading and writing. Be sure to note changes in behavior.
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