I am currently in a situation where I am the permanent teacher, taking the place of another teacher. I have been in this position for about 3 weeks now, and I have noticed that many students arrive late every day. Not just one or two but 10-15 students are arriving late to my class! Are there any positive solutions that I could implement right away to alleviate the problem? I am going to hold a class meeting this Monday to ask them how we can solve the problem. Please help me! I need some guidance and direction in order to alleviate the matter.
DR. MARSHALL’S RESPONSE:
A class meeting is a good start for the students.
But the problem is also an instructional one––there are some things that the teacher should not do and can do.
First, some things not to do:
DO NOT COLLECT anything within the first five minutes––this includes homework, lunch money, permission slips, etc.
DO NOT HAND ANYTHING OUT within the first five minutes.
DO NOT TAKE ATTENDANCE within the first five minutes.
DO NOT START A LESSON WITH THESE WORDS, “Take out your books.”
Today’s students live with remote controls in their heads. These controls have three switches: participate, apathy, and disrupt. Any of the above “dont’s” are more likely to prompt the second or third options.
Instead strategically plan for instruction:
Find one thing in your planned lesson that energizes or excites you. Then ask yourself what you can do to catch the students’ interest. The more unique the better! For example, assume you are teaching science and the lesson has to do with weather. Bring an egg and a bucket to class. Stand on a chair with an egg in your hand. Drop the egg. Ask the class why the egg fell. Obviously, the more outlandish or foolish your action, the more attention you will get and the less the students will want to miss your opening.
In this example, students will answer, “gravity.” Ask why didn’t the egg did not fall sideways. Legitimatize all answers, i.e., accept them all; don’t make fun of any.
If a student answers that the egg is heavy, then ask why a feather falls, and then the key question, “Why don’t clouds fall?”
The purpose of exercises like these is to create “killer questions”––those that prompt curiosity––not to pass a test or for some other external reason but one that students want to know for themselves.
I used to start my social studies classes showing a cartoon using an overhead projector. In English classes, have students do a “show and tell” the first few minutes. Then have students write on what they have seen or can learn from it.
Creating teaching ideas is what makes preparing for teaching so much fun.
The point: Start every lesson with something that creates curiosity. Then watch how your students get to your class on time.
More is in the book under, “Sponge Activities.” In addition, “REDUCING TARDIES” has its own section with additional suggestions, starting on page 207.
P.S. Clouds do fall. It’s called precipitation.