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One Direction at a Time

Author: Steve Hiles

Classroom Management Tip:
"Always give your students one direction at a time."

Here's how to implement this strategy. Let's work through the following scenario.

Step 1: The teacher (you) instructs the students to get out their math books. Take note, at this point, the teacher should stop. Do not proceed any further until all students have their math books on their desks. 

Step 2: Next, the teacher instructs the students to turn to page 113. Once again, the teacher should stop and wait. Do not proceed to the next step until all students have turned to the correct page. You may even want to ask them to give a show of hands when they have double-checked that they are on the correct page. 

Step 3: Finally, the teacher instructs the students to work problems #1 through #10.

I know that you are probably thinking, "Wow, this is going to take all day to do a simple task." But I can assure you that it will not. In fact, once the students realize they only need to do one thing at a time, then they are usually able to accomplish it without a lot of fuss. Just think for a moment -- if you had to stop and repeat yourself 25 different times, how much time would be wasted!

Yes, it's true. an argument could be made that most 21st century kids are amazing at multi-tasking. They can watch TV, listen to music, write messages on smartphones, build a fort, watch other kids, and play games on computers or Xbox -- all at the same time.

But what most children cannot do is perform tasks sequentially. They may also not be very good -- yet -- at prioritizing. These are skills that you as their teacher can assist them to gain by breaking tasks into achievable "chunks."

Working step-by-step, one step at a time, following just one direction from the teacher, they can be successful all along the way and will learn connections -- how one step leads to another. Moreover, they will begin to understand how if you break large tasks into small chunks, you can accomplish anything! So, I leave you with this one last thought: Remember, "One direction at a time." I hope that when (you) teachers go back to school, this strategy proves to be helpful.  I would love to hear back from those of you who use this strategy and your experiences!

What are your most successful class management methods?

All the best,

Ice Breakers Community Building Activities for Grades 3-5

Author: Steve Hiles

Start your school year off with hands-on, creative community building activities. Create a comfortable and fun atmosphere in your classroom right from day one with Ice Breakers: Community Building Activities for Grades 3-5. This product consists of 36 interactive "Ice Breaker" activities ranging from interpersonal games and puzzles to creative poetry and hands-on activities. Students will play, move, discuss, and get to know each other! Step-by-step directions on how to play or do each of the activities are provided. 

I have used ice breakers not only during the first few days of school, but throughout the school year as well. Especially during the winter holiday/spring breaks, transitions, team building, as well as welcoming new students to our classroom.

All the best,

Changing Mental States

Author: Steve Hiles

Tips: Change the Setting, Change the Mood

By changing mental states often, you can enhance the learning process. If nothing else, you can prevent boredom and simple fatigue. Strike a balance between safe structured procedures and activities scheduled at predictable times with the occasional surprises.

One of the most effective ways to change a mental state is change the physical state of the person. Get the students up out of their seats frequently, reconfigure the classroom to suit new activities, and take the class outside for a change of scene. You can also use subtle cues to change the whole mood of the classroom -- turn off some of the lights or turn everything on full. Open windows or shut them. Turn on music or ask for silence. I talk a little more about this in my book, Get Started on the Right Foot.

The younger child, the more frequently you need to have them do something physical. If you want proof of this, check out a kindergarten class; watch the kids constantly moving around and you will see what I mean.

Until the next time, have a great day!

All the best,