Just last week I spent a day in two different schools. The first a high school outside of Roanoke and the second a K-8 school near Philadelphia. I decided for this post to put together a short and sweet compilation of the most important recommendations I gave.

  • Stop telling and start asking: My recommendation is to pick one day. From the time the teacher wakes up until the time he goes to sleep no matter what anyone says all day he has to respond with a question and see what happens. My prediction is you will never go back. This will become the way you teach.

    Q – What do we have to do for homework?
    A – What do you think you should have to do for homework?

    Q – How many questions will be on the test?
    A – Great question. How many do you think would be fair?

    If nothing else responding with a question buys you time to think of exactly how you want to answer!

  • 2nd to last word: Do not be afraid to walk away from kids that do or say inappropriate things. They do not always need to be written up or removed from class. However, it is important to pull them aside later to explain how/why the behavior was unacceptable and inappropriate. It is also important to say how you (the adult) might have contributed to the problem.
  • Do not turn your back on kids unless it is absolutely necessary. If it is necessary it should never be for more than a few seconds. If you must, go to a local store and buy a few small mirrors. Strategically place them around your room. Now when turning your back you can still see behind you.
  • Detailed Agenda written on the board: It was amazing that out of 15 classrooms I visited not one had a detailed agenda written on the board. I believe this is very important for the teacher and students. This is especially true in a block schedule. For example:
    8:00-8:20 Read Hamlet
    8:20-8:40 Discuss Hamlet
    8:40-9:00 Practice Writing Assessment
    9:00-9:20 Poetry, Current Issues in Education

    This was a critical aspect of my classroom as it gives a visual guideline for my day. Of course it can be adjusted as the class goes but it is a nice guide for students and the teacher. If “Read Hamlet” is going really well the teacher can obviously extend this segment and bump poetry to the next day.