Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What Your Backpacks Tell You

So, I mentioned earlier that I'm reading Dream Class (view the earlier post here). I'm loving what I'm reading so far. This is a great classroom management book, but it ain't for the faint of heart. It's for folks who are serious about classroom management.

One idea from author Michael Linsin that I found particularly... intriguing... is that you can gauge a teacher's handle of classroom management by looking at his or her backpack storage. Basically, if a classroom has a messy backpack area, that teacher is struggling with classroom management. I found that idea to be a rather provocative one! I know my class's backpacks look a little crazy at the end of the day. I wondered to myself, What is this guy thinking? The nerve!

The more I read and thought, though, the more I understood what he was trying to say. If I let a messy, disheveled backpack area slide, what else am I willing to overlook? If I don't ask the basic courtesy of putting things away neatly, what other basic courtesies am I not expecting?

We all know that keeping a neat classroom is better for students. I know that if my classroom is cluttered or unorganized, it will keep students from learning. I hate to say the word demand, but I feel that if I do demand neatness, it will set a tone for high expectations.

Maybe I'm crazy, but I get it. In that post I referenced earlier, March Madness, I wrote about how I've started new rules and consequences to try to reign in the spring fever my students are feeling. Part of this new regime is maintaining a neat backpack area.

Here is a picture of my students' backpacks right before we packed up today:

So one of the lunch boxes fell over... but other than that, I'm pretty proud of their neatness! I must admit that I have started lining the students up in the morning in the hallway just outside my classroom door, reviewing the procedures for putting away backpacks neatly before they are allowed in the room. Once they come in the room, I have a welcome message on the Promethean board, again reminding them to hang their backpacks up neatly. But still! It's just so tidy and pretty!

Having this corner of the room look so well-organized has spilled into the rest of the room. The students TRULY are tidier in the rest of the classroom! So again, I may be crazy for focusing on this seemingly minor classroom detail, but it's making the rest of the room and the day even better. Hey, if it works, I'll take it!