This section shares some ideas….it is just the tip of the iceberg though, so many more ideas and ways of doing things still exist.
If you’re a new teacher at a school, returning after a break, or starting out a new year or job, head to New Year and Icebreakers.
For some fun activities, click here.
Behaviour Management will probably be an ongoing challenge with your high volume of students and number of classes taught, click here for some ideas.
For some engaging activities for language learning are found here……
The way that you set your classroom up will influence the tone and atmosphere of the lessons you deliver. The way that a lesson begins may set the tone for the WHOLE lesson, so I feel that you need to ensure that this is a good start, every time. So, if there are things in your classroom that are consistently disrupting your lesson, then ways to change these, or totally remove from the equation, need to be addressed.
I have a number of things that I feel are important in the classroom;
- A positive start to every lesson.
- Routine, they know what to expect when they enter the classroom.
- A positive learning environment.
- Clear expectations of behaviour, bookwork, assignment quality, manners, treatment of each other and visitors.
- Excellent classroom organisation.
- Effective seating arrangement.
- Lots of variety.
- Captivating and interesting content.
- A safe place, where students will ‘have a go’ with what they can do, rather than stay quiet as they are afraid to make a mistake.
So keeping the challenges and objectives in mind, these are some things that work well in my classroom. I am in my 9th year at my current school; these have not happened overnight and have been introduced gradually. If something is not working or is a constant battle, I look to how I can change it, make it so that the lessons can be about the positives and not the negatives.
Some of the consistent challenges were:
Challenge # 1 : Students forgetting books.
There are a couple of reasons, some being they take them home to do homework and forget them. This is becoming more of a factor as so many students spend time between the different dwellings of Mums, Dads, grandparents and Carers.
- I keep all the books in my classroom. This ensures a smooth start to the lesson. Each student has a Foolscap folder with their name written in Japanese and English, an Anime picture or 2, some Kanji and any tasteful decorations on it to help them take pride in their work. Some students even cover their folders in colourful contact.
- In the folder is their Japanese workbook (more on this later), a notebook to do any rough copies, quizzes and work in and also any tests, loose sheets and extra things they get.
- These folders are kept in class sets in plastic tubs with the class clearly written on the tub. I tried a few different systems, however this is what is working for me at the moment.
- When I can, I spread the folders out so that the students pick them up as they enter the classroom (minimising movement and disruption). If not, there are ‘Folder-giving-out-monitors’. As the lesson finishes, they all put their folders back in the plastic tub and this is stacked near the entrance door for easy retrieval for their next lesson.
- This has made the start of lessons much smoother and allows me to start on a positive note, rather than chasing books etc.
Challenge #2 : Taking too long gluing sheets and not having glue and scissors
- I made booklets for all the classes. With the photocopiers that make and staple booklets now, a really professional looking booklet can be made. A4 size originals become A4 size, double sided, stapled booklets loaded with fabulous resources and activities for your students.
- Again, names on the front in English and Japanese. Some things you may include are vocab sheets, worksheets, task sheets, reflection pages, activities, progress charts, song words, Bingo pages….the possibilities are endless.
- With the transient nature of many families now, I find it so good for new students. I can simply give them a booklet instead of searching through to find all the work they have missed.
- The other thing I love about the booklets is that you can include activities for early finishers and also extension activities. No more being finished early and maybe bored.
- I have すばらしいcards for all the students. At the beginning of the year, they make a すばらしい character (of their choice, Japanese Anime) which I laminate. Each lesson I choose about 4 students to put their すばらしい character card on the window. This is the window that all classes pass on the way to PE lessons and to the oval so it becomes very public.
- The すばらしい charactercard stays for one week. When the students take their card down, they get a stamp in their folder. 4 stamps mean a special certificate on Assembly and their name in the newsletter.
- This really helps to end a lesson on a positive note.
- The other certificates I get given out on Assembly are ‘Kirakira Rising Star Awards’ for students who have tried hard or shown a bigimprovement in behaviour. These names are also in the newsletter.
- So that the certificates are not too many to slow down Assembly, one week I give Yr 4 and 6 certificates, the next week Yr 5 and 7.
- I also give a Class of the Week Award which is highly sought after by all the classes. This is laminated and is generally displayed in a prominent place in the winning class’ room. It can be signed by a Principal or Deputy as well.
Challenge # 4 : Rewards for students
- I have done lots of different things over the years; however at the moment have a Raffle Ticket system going. It is quite fast and very efficient.
- For students who win quizzes, bingo, games etc, they get to put raffle tickets in special containers. Name and class written on recycled paper (very high-tech). Also tickets for beautiful pages, helping around the classroom and so on.
- The first Monday of the month is Raffle Day and it is drawn on Assembly. Prizes are usually from Japan (stationery, stickers, origami, chopsticks, hachimaki, kendama…..anything Japanese is always popular). One or two prizes per year level. This is still very popular with all of the students.
Challenge # 5 : Rocking desks
- This is now fixed, however there was a stage where students were rocking desks …..a LOT!! I asked them and they said that because there were no tidy trays ( I took them all out as they were leaving rubbish in them) it was just so easy to rock the desks.
- I discussed this with some Senior teachers who suggested the trapezoidal desks. These are a sets of 2, can’t be rocked and 4 students sit at each set.
- Once I wanted to change the desks, the Groundsman and other teachers were so helpful and accommodating. Sometimes it is just a matter of asking. As a primary teacher you may be the only Language teacher, however other teachers are generally very helpful, and often happy to be asked for their opinion and / or help.
Challenge # 6 : Keeping students engaged and interested.
- A whole book could be written on this, however now it is much easier to have a lesson with much variety. Many classrooms have data projectors, computers, iPads, iPods, Webcams and other high-tech gadgets. YouTube clips can grab students’ attention and set the tone for very interesting lessons. Make sure you have downloaded the YouTube clip before the lesson to avoid unwelcome pop-ups!
- I feel we are very lucky to have all of these things available to us now, enabling us to deliver lessons with so much variety and relevance to students.
- I know that there are teachers doing amazing things all the time in their classroom. I would love to hear about things that work well if you are happy to share your wonderful teaching practices.
This is a section that will be updated from time to time as teachers share ideas.
Feedback is also appreciated. Is something working for you? What did you find useful?
Everything in the world moves so fast now. If you can’t attend network meetings or are in a remote region, then I hope some ideas here are useful for you. I have had advice and help over the years from so many different teachers which I so appreciate. We share, we learn, we nurture new teachers, we idolise senior teachers, it is a never-ending cycle. May the Dalai Lama XIV’s words be true;
“Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.” [/password-protect]