A Simple Way To Attain Daily Improvement Smart Classroom Management

4 min read

To be an effective teacher it’s critical to continually push your students to get better every day.

There is no stasis.

You’re either improving or you’re getting worse. It’s a phenomenon that holds true in most areas of life.

That’s not to say that you won’t have bad days or moments when there is a drop in performance. The trend line, however, must be pushed higher and higher. Otherwise, it’s a slow, spiraling descent to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

Years ago I came up with a strategy to help ensure I’m prodding my class in an upward direction.

It’s simple. It takes very little time. It isn’t mentally taxing for you or an extra burden for your students. But it maintains a soft pressure and drive to improve every day.

Here’s how it works:

Take out a sheet of paper and draw a horizontal line across the middle. On the top half, write three things your class is doing well. On the bottom half write the three most pressing things they’re not doing well.

For example:

Doing well . . .

Walking to lunch

Group discussions

Reading independently

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Not doing well . . .

Hand raising

Entering the classroom

Behavior during assemblies

In the morning, or at the beginning of the period, you’re going to share your good and bad list with your class. You don’t have to go on and on about it. You won’t overly praise or do any lecturing or scolding. You’re simply giving feedback.

In other words, this is what I like and want to keep doing and this is what I don’t like and want to fix. It should take less than a minute.

But what it does is help hang on to and even perfect those good areas while at the same time improve the not-so-good. The key is to do it every day. Now, it’s important to mention that your list will—and should—change.

During the day take note of what you like and of what can be better.

The bottom half doesn’t have to be terrible. The idea is to choose things to focus on and improve. Also, you don’t always have to have three each. You may have one and three or two and two. Doesn’t really matter.

An example of each may sound like this:

“The line while walking to lunch yesterday was excellent. Let’s keep that up today.”

“There were a few students who called out yesterday and received a consequence. Be sure to raise your hand today.”

And that’s it. I’ve found that after awhile putting together a daily list is really easy. Don’t worry about being perfect or whether you missed something. The idea is to keep improving through honest, direct feedback.

Students don’t get enough of it. When they do, they naturally lean toward getting better. Just write down what comes to you and you can’t mess it up.

In time, your list will no longer be so broad but will instead narrow in on smaller and smaller details. As long as you’re using the SCM approach, and striving for daily excellence, you’ll see dramatic improvement in just a few weeks.

One more thing: It’s okay to highlight the areas needing improving as they come up during the day. For example, just before entering the classroom, remind your students that it’s an area of focus.

There are a few more details to the strategy that will only make sense after first using it. I’ll save these for a future article.

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