Mary Dagani | September 2017

Keep It Super Simple

Welcome back! It’s that time of year; everything is new, full of fresh possibilities and renewed energy. Along with all this newness comes a new set of students, new expectancies, and sometimes, a new set of behaviors that you didn’t quite expect. If you are anything like me as a classroom teacher, I was constantly searching for the most efficient and effective way to keep my classroom running smoothly. Yes, I’ve spent countless hours creating complex charts, elaborate record keeping systems, and lesson plan templates that made me look and feel like I was a great teacher.

Well, here I am 27 years later, and when I think back on all of the time I spent creating those fancy “record keeping works of art”, I would give anything to have that time back. So, take some advice from an old-timer like me… When it comes to classroom management, Keep It Super Simple!

Make a List

If you need to keep track of certain part of your curriculum or student progress that has consistent goals, think about creating a thorough checklist.  I’m currently work as a traveling STEAM teacher.  I have as many as 26 teaching assignments every 2 weeks and I see a lot of different management systems in the classrooms I service.  As a guest teacher in these classrooms, I can tell which ones work and which don’t – the simpler ones always win out.  Since we are only in the rooms twice a month, it is important for us to maintain communication with the classroom teachers and provide consistency with our program.

In order to do that,  we’ve created a super-simple, yet comprehensive checklist of STEAM focus areas.  We also included a space to the right where we can write our objective or an additional comment to the classroom teacher.  With my primary classes, I also use the back of the 1/2 sheet to list the names of students who are demonstrating super STEAM learning behaviors.  I usually draw a great big heart for my really young students and they absolutely love to see their “name in my heart”. 

Go Paperless

Utility and credit card companies are doing it!  Why not teachers?  When you really think about it, schools use a lot of paper.  And where does most of it end up?  Shoved in the bottom of backpacks never to see the light of day again, or (hopefully) in a recycling bin.  That, along with the fact that most of our parents spend copious amounts of time on their electronic devices, why not use it to your advantage?  Sounds easy-pleasy to me!  I work in many classrooms where the teacher uses an app to document student work and communicate with parents all at the same time.  Many of these apps are convenient and easy to use, thus saving you valuable time that could be spent with a loved one, or used to refresh your spirit.  You can read more about these apps here.

Just Simplify

Henry David Thoreau once said, “Our life is frittered away by detail.  Simplify, simplify.”  Oh how I wish technology was what it is today when I was a young teacher.  You are lucky.  Heed his words and make your school year less complicated.

About the Author

Mary is a STEAM TOSA, Project Lead the Way Launch Lead Teacher, and an Orff Schulwerk music specialist. Her eclectic background, along with her 28 years of elementary classroom teaching, gives her a unique perspective on Arts Integration.