Here’s the scenario: You decided on your math workshop routines, you taught your procedures and expectations, and you feel like you’re in full swing.
While your kiddos are working, take a minute to be an objective observer (or even better, ask someone to observe or videotape in your class). Just stand in a corner of your room, and try not to draw attention to yourself. In other words, try not to let the kids know you’re watching them. Watch the kids for a few minutes and listen to the conversations.
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What do you see?
- Are students using the manipulatives properly?
- Are they taking turns?
- Do they know what to do?
- Are they following the directions for the work station?
- Are they getting work done?
What do you hear?
- Are students talking about math?
- Are they using the appropriate conversation level?
- Are they speaking to each other with respect?
Ask yourself, Is this what I envisioned my Math Workshop would look and sound like? If you are totally honest, the answer might be no. Now that we got that out of the way, here’s the good news…it’s never too late to figure that out! It’s happened to us all–we forget just how long it takes the kids to make the classroom routines and expectations their own. We have to set our expectations, communicate them clearly, and then enforce the heck out of them. If your class doesn’t look and sound the way you want it to, decide where the train derailed (setting expectations, communicating expectations, or enforcing expectations) and get it right back on track!
One quick side note, this process goes for classroom management in general, not just Math Workshop. It’s a good idea to give yourself a quick check-up every couple of weeks before bad habits settle in. Are you letting kids call out when they should be raising their hands? Are you consistent with your expectation that students walk, not run? Are you expecting and enforcing full-body listening (eyes and ears on the speaker, hands quiet) when you’re talking to the class or teaching? Remember, we are teaching the whole child, not just math or reading. The more you teach and reinforce high expectations, the more successful your students will be–not only this year but for years to come.