An Environment for Success
How can teachers setup their classroom to create a positive learning environment?
An organized classroom promotes organization habits among students and makes the teacher’s job easier.
- Ensure that the children’s chairs and desks are arranged in a way that allows for flexibility to fit group instruction as well as small group work.
- It is helpful for students to have a supply center, which allows them to independently prepare and manage their materials. It may contain items such as scissors, hole punchers, pencil sharpeners, etc. Provide visual cues for gathering materials needed for projects. Keep containers, such as shower caddies, handy to transport materials back and forth to the supply center.
- A homework center allows for a designated area where homework-related activities to be centralized and turned in.
How can teachers develop effective systems for managing homework?
A clear routine and system for assigning, collecting, and storing homework will make managing homework assignments easier.
- Designate a regular place for recording homework, whether a portion of the chalkboard, whiteboard, or online so that it is easily accessible to all students.
- Establish a regular time for assigning homework. It may be beneficial to assign homework at the beginning of a lesson, so that students are not writing the assignment down as class is ending. This also allows for time to answer any questions regarding the assignment and can greatly increase homework completion rates.
- Keep a master planner and homework log in which all assignments are recorded by the teacher or a responsible student. This can be a class resource for students who are absent or are missing assignments.
- Extra handouts can be kept in a folder, a file organizer, or online. This way, students who miss or lose assignments have the responsibility of obtaining the necessary papers.
- Designate a physical structure, such as a paper tray, to collect homework rather than using class time to collect papers.
- Establish a regular time for collecting homework. Consider using a “5 in 5” reminder, requiring students to complete 5 tasks in the first 5 minutes of class, such as turning in homework and writing down new assignments.
- File graded work in individual hanging folders to decrease class time devoted to handing out papers.
- To encourage organization, have students designate sections of their binder for (1) homework to be complete, (2) graded work, (3) notes, and (4) handouts. Consider periodic checks and provide feedback.
- Have students track their grades on grade logs to provide them with the opportunity to calculate grades and reflect on performance.
- At the end of a grading period, encourage students to clean out their binders, and discuss which papers are worth keeping and why. Encourage them to invest in an accordion file or crate for hanging files to keep important papers.
How can teachers structure classroom time efficiently and teach students time management skills?
- Timers (such as the Time Timer or sand timers) provide students with a concrete visual reminder of the amount of time remaining for a task. They are a great tool for group work, timed tests, or silent reading.
- Post a daily schedule in a visible place to establish the day’s plan. Present the schedule to the students, and refer to the schedule when making modifications to model time management skills.
- Display a monthly calendar to provide students with regular visual reminders of upcoming events. These calendars are also beneficial for modeling backwards planning.
- Carve out time for organization. Devote a short amount of time for students at the end of the day to reflect on their learning, manage their materials, prioritize homework assignments, and make a plan for their completion.
How can teachers help students manage their materials?
- Designate a short amount of time once a week for students to dump out and reorganize backpacks and clean up lockers.
- When students finish tests or tasks early encourage them to use the downtime to organize their materials.
- Have students use labels, racks, or dividers to keep items clean and organized.
Jen Brown, MS, OTR/L
Director of Occupational Therapy Services
Rush NeuroBehavioral Center. (2006, 2007). Executive Functions Curriculum.