What do I do that makes a difference in my classroom, and is this the ‘best thing’ I do?

At the start of every school year, and then at the start of every term, I create self-awareness and ownerships of students’ learning by undertaking a ‘Are You Ready?’ routine.  I place a piece of masking tape on the floor and ask students to answer this question as I pose it to them.  I say: “Good Morning Chris, are you ready?”, when Chris responds, “Yes, I am”, I ellicit further information and say: “But what is it you are ready to do?” At this point the child is forced to pause and reflect.  I will give prompts if necessary and I might guide them to an area of learning I have conferenced them on previously.  I might tell them, I have seen their attitude to handwriting improving lately, or, maybe that they have slipped on their spelling homework.  In this way, the student can see a path forward and they might/will say: “I am ready to try harder to make my letters sit on the line when handwriting”, or “I am ready to practise my spelling words every day”.  This technique is all about goal setting, and it is specific.  If a child says, “I am ready to learn”, they are turned around and asked to join the back of the line while they think specifically what they can do to work on their learning today.

I often revisit this technique during the school term to ensure children do not forget that learning is for them, and as such they should understand they can make decisions around their path. I also remember what children have said and reference their statement during the day, “Well done Chris, I can see how hard you were concentrating on forming your letters during Handwriting to achieve your goal”.

Just as I enter the classroom with an obvious and deliberate intent, I am fostering the same capacity in each and every student.  Furthermore, just as we code-switch to enter over the threshold into a church, a hospital or a library, the same can be said for a classroom.  It is not just ‘where one goes when the bell rings’, it is ‘where change happens’, or more precisely, where the changes happen that students are working toward.  There is always progress in my classroom, and it is always as a consequence of saying those three little words: I AM READY!

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