On today’s podcast, I want to share with you a tool that I use to help manage the transitional time as students are entering the gym.
When teaching in an elementary school setting, like many of you, the majority of classes are taught in a back to back format. So as one class as leaving, another one’s coming in the door and I feel it’s really, really important to have a system or a routine in place that students follow as they enter your class. You know, like many of you, I want to make the most out of every instructional minute. So having an entry procedure that’s clearly defined, help students understand what’s expected of them and it will become a routine over a period of time. I have to start off and say that I don’t use the same entry procedure every day, so instead of students coming into a science spots or going to a squad line and then me giving the directions, I use something that I refer to as an entry easel and my entry easel is just a small two foot by three foot dry erase boards on wheels and it’s located just inside my gym doors.
I have the board divided up into sections and each section is designated for a different grade level inside each of those grade levels. Spaces on the board are the directions for what I want students to do when they come into the gym. Now, each of the lessons that I teach is unique and the way that in which I choose to begin the lesson often differs and the entry is allows me to have one location where students know to look as they walk into the gym. They simply read the directions on the board and they get started. I also like to include pictures and some drawings along with the written directions. Those really helped my non-readers or my ELL students. These visual directions have been really effective and I even created some of my more frequently used pictures and icons. I just printed out the pictures and laminated them.
I have some adhesive magnets I put on the back and I stick them up on my board. It helps save me some time instead of writing them out every day and it just gives kids a familiarity with those. With those common icons and pictures, you know, depending on the lesson, students might enter the gym and they might go get their pedometer on. They might find a partner or a group. They may go to the middle circle or the T v area of find their own personal space or get a piece of equipment and begin working with it, but regardless of what it is that I want them to do when they come in, they have one location to get that information and then get started and getting students to be self-starters by following that entry procedure. It really frees me up as a teacher to touch base with maybe a teacher picking up a previous class.
If we had an issue or just to kind of let them know how the day went, maybe I have to finish up an assignment with a student or a lot of times I’m transitioning equipment that needs to get set up or put away in between classes. I also liked having those entry directions posted for those students that may come to class a couple minutes late. This way they don’t need to come up to me and ask me what we’re doing. They just, I simply refer them to the board and they go take a look and then they get started and if they have questions then they’ll come to me and I can clarify now. Like any new thing that you attempt to roll out to students, it’s going to take time. Consistent reminders to check. The board will help reinforce those procedures and guide your students towards your expectations. And depending on the ages of your students you teach and the frequency that they come to your class, that’s going to determine how long that process will take for you. So if you’re looking for a way to make the most of your instructional time and you want to get your students started with a purpose, as soon as they enter the gym, give the entry easel concept of try.
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