One lesson I learned in my early years as a teacher was that students learn more, I have more time to teach, and the classroom seems to work more smoothly when everyone in the room is on the same page with our use of language and procedures. This may not seem critical or important, but when these things aren’t in place, lots of teaching and learning time is wasted due to continual explanation and re-explanation of where to go, where to find things, what to bring, what to do, and how to do it.
A big part of being a member of a community is knowing the terms used and expected procedures and routines for how things work. For example, when I say, “Readers, meet me in the meeting area for reading workshop,” my students know it means it’s time to grab their reading notebook, pencil, and current book, walk to the meeting area, and sit next to their literacy partner because the lesson is going to start soon. This does not happen by chance. Rather, it happens intentionally with explanation and practice at the start of the school year. Eventually, it becomes a natural, expected part of our day to day community. Everyone is in-the-know and our reading learning starts off seamlessly without too much fuss or confusion.
If students forget what they need to bring or do, there is a co-created chart for reference displayed in the room. All it takes is the point of a finger or reminder from a friend to check the chart to support students who need a nudge. The chart is also helpful for guest teachers, new students, and visitors to welcome them into our community.
Plus, when a common set of procedures and language are in place, students feel supported and safe. They feel in community with everyone else who share the common procedures and language.
Every classroom community is comprised of unique individuals who make it a special place to teach and learn. The terms and procedures in my classroom might look a little different than the terms and procedures in your classroom. Spending time explaining, co-creating, teaching, practicing, and learning the terms and procedures in your classroom at the very start of the year will be time well spent that will make your students feel safe and confident and will ultimately save you a ton of instructional minutes in the future.
Up Next in the Series: #7 & #8: Read Aloud & Book Talk Daily. All posts in this blog series can be found linked here. More information and classroom tips about building a reading community can be found in chapter one of Answers to Your Biggest Questions About Teaching Elementary Reading.