Don’t tell my principal, but at the last staff meeting I wasn’t perfectly focused on everything he said. For a few minutes I was thinking about all the stuff I had to do at work, about how I needed to mow my lawn REAL bad since it was looking like a jungle out there, and how I couldn’t wait to see my daughter.
Imagine if I was 30 years younger and had an even smaller attention span, a need to move in my seat more and unclear expectations of what I was supposed to be doing. Maybe this doesn’t happen in your classroom with your students, but it happens in mine. And basically to every teacher I ever talk to. So let’s all just assume that this is a common problem, right?
So while we won’t eliminate this problem, we can certainly reign it in a bit. With crystal clear expectations laid out for our students, and an added bonus of posting their photos we start to see some changes. When you’ve been on video or see yourself in a photo, do you find yourself immediately analyzing every bit of it? You’re looking at your messed up hair, you’re thinking about what you are wearing, thinking about what you are doing in the video or the photo. So…we can do that with kids, but instead of making them look for what they AREN’T doing, we can catch them for what they SHOULD be doing.
I tried this first in a second grade classroom. I told them that I was going to be looking for students that were on task and showing the behaviors that we all agreed upon in workshop expectations. Then I explained that I would be getting my mobile device out to take photos of them doing these things. I told them I would use the photos to make something special. Suddenly they sat up straighter, got immediately to work, and were perfect tiny little angels. For real. Angelic.
So here is the special thing I made them:
I looked at each part of the teacher’s workshop and about what the students needed to look like to be successful. I targeted my photos to be able to show them exactly what they look like when on task. When the expectations were crystal clear, and they were in the photos…that’s when we started to see more focused behaviors.
I believe this can be adapted to any grade level. Children love to be validated and honored for doing great work. I think that we all do in some way or another. This gives them great recognition for being on task, with the added benefit of reinforcing your math workshop expectations.