Teachers around the world have been tasked with the seemingly impossible balancing act of transitioning between remote, in-person, and blended classrooms, supporting their students, tending to their home lives, and maintaining their mental health in the 2020-21 school year—all during a pandemic. And yet, somehow, their resilience and perseverance have shown just how essential these workers are to the next generation of leaders and change-makers as they have gracefully stepped up to the task at hand.
As we enter the second half of this extraordinary school year, we hope to offer some solutions to teachers that will mitigate burnout for themselves and their classes while keeping students engaged and motivated. Read on to discover four ways to incorporate effective classroom management strategies so that teachers can work “smarter, not harder” in the coming months.
1. Communicate openly with parents.
This school year, in particular, parents are a part of your audience more than ever. One easy way to get them more involved is through a weekly newsletter, which can be sent via email or home with students. The newsletter will act as a consistent line of communication that allows you to give an overview of lessons and provide corresponding home practice exercises each week.
Another way to involve parents in the classroom is by providing how-to videos that give an overview of classroom resources so they can refer back as they use them throughout the semester to help their child on various assignments. For parents who might need more individualized help in supporting their student, offer times for virtual office hours or conferences where you can discuss student progress and address questions one-on-one.
2. Schedule your time wisely.
At the beginning of each week, plan a tentative schedule for what each day might look like, with time frames to complete assignments or lessons. This will save a lot of time in transition periods during the school day and helps ensure that all topics are covered in a timely manner. Sometimes the schedule will need to be adjusted slightly, but use your best judgment and knowledge of your students to make these decisions.
To facilitate your schedule, consider setting alarms throughout the day that remind you to start wrapping up and begin to rotate to the next lesson. Another way to manage your time is through apps like classroomscreen.com, which creates widgets that your students can view as well. Widgets include a timer, text boxes, sound level, polling, and group generators that can provide a visual structure to the daily schedule.
3. Develop a reward system.
Provide incentives for students to strive to be their best in the classroom. One reward system is designating an exemplar student for the day based on their attitude and effort, and offer choices for their reward, such as a virtual lunch with the teacher, selecting the morning meeting song, or dressing up in a fun outfit for the day. Students will love getting involved when they feel like they have exciting options to choose from.
Another reward system that you can incorporate in your class is a raffle with prizes such as receiving a personalized teacher Bitmoji, choosing the teacher’s hairstyle for the day, or leading a game of Kahoot. When students are trying their hardest with an assignment or display kindness toward themselves or a classmate, provide them with a ticket. Tickets will accumulate throughout the quarter, and prizes can be given at the end to reward students for their efforts.
4. Engage students in creative ways.
One simple way to engage students is by creating participation protocols. For online classes, choose nonverbal cues that correspond to various emotions students might be feeling throughout the day. For example, when students are excited, they can signal with jazz hands. When they are thinking about a response, they can point to their brains. This exercise can help manage the occasional sound overload on Zoom while still keeping students attentive.
Always try to start the day with an engaging activity so that students can transition from their “home brain” to their “school brain” and mentally prepare for the day. Playing an interesting video or song or leading a breathing/mindfulness exercise can help to set a productive tone for the rest of the school day.
At Participate Learning, our mission to unite our world through global learning would not be possible without the dedication of our ambassador teachers, who strive to provide life-changing educational opportunities for all students. For more information on tips that can help facilitate engaging learning in your classroom, check out these resources, or follow us on Twitter @ParticipateLrng.