Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lining up

Would lining up from shortest to tallest be too much?

Walking to and from the classroom and various other parts of the school may seem like a simple thing, no? Well, it can be when I'm prepared and have trained the class to respect others, the school, and themselves. To me, a perfect line looks like this:

>> Everyone is quiet, literally the only thing you can hear is the soft shuffling of feet. I will permit an occasional whisper or two.
>> Everyone faces forward. I will also permit an occasional head turn, but students should turn back to the front of the line almost immediately.
>> The line is single file (or double file, for a larger class size), with no more than a 1-person space between each student nearly the whole time the class is lined up.
>> Students are walking in an orderly fashion, playground equipment and other items held firmly, hands and feet to themselves.
>> Students pause and allow teachers, staff, and other adults to pass first, no matter where they are. With their peers, or other classes lined up, it's first come first serve. For older students, I would make them let the younger students go first too.

During my phase 2 student teaching, my first graders were nearly always like this. Not really because of anything I did, since I was in class for only two days out of the week. But I did enjoy this, and I was able to maintain that level with the students on my own. Besides, it's nice to know what kind of line I want for my own class.

During phase 3, very rarely was my fifth graders like this. Not really because of anything I did either. Actually, when I was in charge of lining them up and walking them to places, the students were WAY more diligent about making a structured line. An entirely different story when they lined up with my CT (unless he took the effort to make them so that is, on a typical day he didn't, plus I know for a fact that when I left in March his class went back to being an unruly line).

Getting the students to this end product is the tricky part and there is no one correct way of doing so. It depends on the class I guess. But I find it really important to make a line as close to possible as the ideal situation above. Hallways can be small, and cramped, and during high traffic times like lunch or recess, there can be a hundred students at a time in the walkways. It just isn't safe to have a class full of kids bouncing off the walls - and ceilings, like my fifth graders - and trampling on muddy grass, which the maintenance people hate because they have to put down new sod again, and their budgets have been cut too so they would rather not spend money on something that can be so easily prevented.

To me, it also shows in general what kind of control a teacher has over their students. That sounds awful, but it's true that the teacher does need to have a firm grasp on discipline and maintaining control. Call me a line nazi, I don't care. I am most definitely the boss, and quicker my students learn this, the more fun we can have for the rest of the school year.

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