This year, I was given the opportunity to try something new for some of our at-risk sixth graders. We handpicked 20 of them for a class. This class is completely different from the normal 6th grade classroom.
First, I don’t assign homework. In part because many of these students don’t do homework, but more importantly, homework has not been show to increase student achievement. In addition, some of these students will do their homework, but do it incorrectly, which means they have practiced it incorrectly and I now would have to fix that.
Second, for the most part, I try to avoid assigned seats, although after they were such a problem for my last sub, I did assign seats for the week!
By letting students choose their seats, I believe they gain a certain responsibility. They also become more self-aware. In making choices about who they sit with and where, in the classroom, they sit, they are given the opportunity to learn that their choices have consequences, both good and bad.
Third, I try to only use research based strategies. That means being careful with what I take from Pinterest or Teacher Pay Teacher. While there are cute ideas on both websites, my students need to make one and a half year’s growth in a year. I don’t have time to spend on cute stuff.
We’re about halfway through our first year. So far, there have been a lot of positives. Check back for posts about the successes!