One of the balances in my classroom is creating consistency while making sure I change things up. As many of you know, I have students loop with me. I teach a 4th/5th grade combo class and my 4th graders stay with me as 5th graders. There are benefits and downsides to having the same kiddos two years in a row, therefore, maintaining consistency and changing things up is my game plan.
The biggest consistencies are with my routines and homework. I find students do better when they know what to expect. We collect homework in baskets in the front of the class everyday. Students are so use to that, it cuts down on me having to chase them down for assignments. I use Friday Folders every week to communicate with parents about behavior and work. It goes home at the end of each week, whether or not it is a full week.
In my class, students have math homework every night and one other assignment. On Mondays, students do writing practice. On Tuesdays, I send home a reading comprehension sheets and Wednesdays, students complete a social studies activity. Finally, on Thursday night, students work on a grammar assignment. It is like that all year and it helps parents too.
Although I build those routines and provide predictability, I do have to change things up. Of course, I do things like changing seating and choosing different lessons, like my infamous cow-eye dissection. My 5th graders dissected them last year, so I wanted to do something different for this year for Halloween. We dissected owl pellets instead. And next year I will do cow-eyes again.
But I do more than that. For example, I use to use pencil boxes with my students and this year I changed to mugs. It was fun for my kiddos I had last year. I told what I was planning and they spent the summer looking for their own personal mug. Of course, I had some from them to choose from too.
It is important to build consistency for your students so they know what to expect. You want them to feel empowered by knowing your routines and what you need from them. But at the same time, keeping your room fresh and exciting by changing things up is a great way to keep student’s interest. You want them to arrive in the morning, looking forward to what is going to happen during the day.
Some things need to the same during the entire year, while others need refreshment or a change. Whatever is working and not causing complacency, should stay the same. And the things in your classroom that are loosing it affect or needs something new, should be changed up.
Have a great holiday season and thanks for stopping by!