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Re: first minutes of the period....


From: Mark Alexander (malexander06_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Mon Jul 16 2001 - 04:50:07 PDT

In my classes (PreK-8) I love getting to know the students, and the first
minutes of the period can be very interesting to that end. Its those first
few minutes when I'll hear who's birthday it is, who went to a museum, who's
breaking up with whom, who's sister got married, and who's birdfeeder got
trashed by bears. But unfortunately, I also need the students to know that
after those first minutes, they'll need to settle down for the motivation,
demo or whatever. So I have developed a routine which works pretty well.
They file in (or middleschoolers trickle in) and they may talk to each other
or me as they head to their seats. As soon as it looks like everyone is in
the room, I stand at the front and in a normal tone of voice I ask for their
attention. Then I look at my watch and wait. Because of the noise level, few
students actually ever hear my request for their attention, but some do and
the word travels fast. Usually they're quiet and attentive in just 15 to 30
seconds. While I'm waiting I ignore all questions. I look at my watch or I
smile in the direction of those who are sitting and quietly waiting along
with me. In the beginning this can take as much as 15 minutes, but I have
found that patience and perseverance pay off. I just wait, and wait. When
they do quiet down, I point out that this is their time they're wasting. I
insist that they treat me respectfully, and I in turn treat them
respectfully. I never scream for them to quiet down, I just ask them for
their attention. In time, they take much less time settling down, and I
spend much less time waiting.