Eliminate the Excuse

21 Nov

One of the first lessons I got in teaching was to develop strong classroom management procedures to handle the problems that I did not want to deal with. For example, passing in papers, I have my students do “School Olympics” where each class passes in papers to the back, then to the right, then into their box. I do this activity in the first week and again several more times to keep it fresh. This way, when I say pass in your papers, the kids know which way to go and where the box is to turn papers. No more questions on where papers go, no more kids, “here” instead of passing it in to the box, just a smooth simple procedure. Technology is the same way for me, I developed my resources for the sole purpose of eliminating problems in class: forgetting assignments, forgetting work, not doing work because the student needed help, forgetting books, losing a handout and much more. By adding technology resources to my classroom I am able to build stronger connections with my students while at the same time eliminating the excuse for not doing what is expected. 

I started with Twitter as a way to send text messages to my kids. I started at about 50% thanks to Twitter Fast Follow. Next I added Google Voice so I would have my own private cell phone number that I could attach to my email on my computer and kids wouldn’t be texting my personal phone number. Now there were two ways students could reach me via text (as they are more likely to text then call). Next was Remind101 where I could send out a free group text to all of my students, not just Twitter followers, and remind them about assignments, dress up days for spirit, books, and other events on campus. I created a blog which I manage through Posterous to send out copies of handouts, daily agendas and pictures of notes. Now, if a student is absent and needs the vocab, they can go the site at school or at home. Now, I don’t have to deal with “I don’t know who to get a copy from.” Bam! Go to the site.

Blogging was my toughest hill to climb. I started the blog, kids posted to the blog, but I noticed no one actually read other peoples’ blogs or comments. This was very apparent after I published a paragraph on common mistakes and what needed to be fixed. When I noticed it wasn’t getting fixed I realized the kids were not paying attention to what was being written, they were only worried about their grade. So, with a few lessons, some modeling, and online practice where I would place random comments on their page or have the students comment on other students’ pages we were good to go. I added some sentence starters and before long kids were leaving good feedback on their blogs.

As of right now, I do not feel there is any reason any of students cannot find what they need: blog, iTunes U, website, Twitter, Google Voice, Facebook and so on. For my non-web people, look at the assignment binder in the back of the room. Extra handouts are there as well, no computer needed. Eliminate the excuse, manage your class, and create procedures that will keep you sane.

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