Stage 2 of our framework involves routines that create an optimal learning environment. It includes:
1) Creating efficient systems so class runs smoothly and predictably…
2) Purposefully planning for JOY in your classroom every day…
3) Ensuring that students actively process content in your lessons…
Why do all of these elements — efficiency, joy, and active processing — fit into stage 2? What do they have in common?
In short, efficiency, joy, and active processing are built through ROUTINES that set the stage for deeper learning. Instead of planning for efficiency, joy, and processing on a lesson-by-lesson basis, we urge teachers to plan for these elements more systematically so that they permeate the classroom environment and the identity that students form collectively as a class. We don’t necessarily want students to leave thinking that today’s lesson was fun or that today’s activity went smoothly; we want them to know that in this class we are ALWAYS efficient and joyful, and we ALWAYS actively process what we are learning. This is who we are!
We are EFFICIENT: Class is well-organized and predictable, our systems maximize our learning time, we know what to do and when to do it!
We are JOYFUL: It is more fun to follow the rules and participate in activities than not to; we celebrate ourselves and each other; it feels good to be here!
We ACTIVELY PROCESS class content: We are expected to think, write, and discuss what we are learning; the teacher does not do the learning for us, rather we learn by thinking for ourselves!
Imagine a classroom of students who operate this way and believe these things about themselves. The possibilities are endless, right? Once stage 2 has been achieved we are truly ready to up the ante and push students to develop complex conceptual understandings, think critically, and transfer learning to solve novel problems!
Julie that’s what you have done exactly at AIS with the teachers! The classrooms now are efficient, joyful and active processing of learning, the students started believing about themselves and started thinking critically! That’s awesome Julie!!
Too sweet, Darine. Thank you. Your leadership and the teachers’ commitment to growth make all the difference in the world. 🙂
Please, tell me more about purposefully planning for joy in the classroom. What does this look like? What are best practices that incorporate both joy and efficiency? Too often (at least in the Social Studies) joy become synonymous with fluff. How can we keep the joy but ramp up the efficiency well?
Thanks for your comment, Laura. Krista wrote today’s post so she might have something she wants to add but I just wanted to point you to all our posts on these topics found here: http://edtosavetheworld.wordpress.com/category/stage-2-joyful-and-efficient/ Hope that helps get you started. -Julie
I normally don’t subscribe to things like this (call and response-type management tools), nor do I think this is based on real brain research as it claims to be, but take a look at some of the videos of Power Teaching or Whole Brain Teaching that I linked to in this post: http://edtosavetheworld.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/classroom-management-is-not-a-four-letter-word/.
Clearly, this is not the be-all-end-all teaching strategy that will suddenly get kids to love social studies. But it’s fun and it makes participating in the lesson more exciting than not participating in it. I use it with my 12th graders — sometimes just to get their attention, sometimes to check for understanding as they talk to one another, sometimes to give them time to process complex stuff in a low-risk way — and they like it.
Similar strategies based on this principle — participating or following the rules should be more fun than not participating or following the rules — include pretty much any other goofy, high-energy routine you can think of. I ask them to hold their pencil out as a microphone while they “interview” each other about what they’re learning, to nod vigorously and “ooh” and “ahh” for each other during class presentations, pound their palms on the desks to agree with points made during a debate and say “here, here!” like delegates to the Constitutional Convention reportedly did.
Don’t get me wrong — none of this equals learning, per se! This is the part that equals fun. Also important. : )