Do you feel overwhelmed with all the paperwork you have to complete each week? Do you need a classroom management overhaul? I was! I did! And this is how I fixed both!
When I first started teaching I spent hours on Thursday nights filling out behavior charts to send home in Friday Folders. I’d curl up on my couch with cheese and crackers (didn’t have time to cook), take out my clipboard where I kept notes throughout the week, and took at short break to watch Friends (this was way before DVR), and work.
Whew! It exhausts me just thinking about it. It was a lot of work and even more work when on Friday nights I got parent phone calls, and emails, or notes on Monday morning asking me why I rated their child less than excellent in certain areas. I felt swamped and stressed and I was losing my personal time on Fridays and my teaching time on Mondays trying to explain since the student “couldn’t remember.” This clearly wasn’t working, nor was it a good use of my time.
Around this time I started working on my National Board Certification, and it provided me the ability to sit down and assess what was and wasn’t working in my classroom. How could I save time? What would be a better way to communicate? One afternoon I looked out at my wonderful students and it became clear! It was time to hold them accountable for their behavior. I went home, revamped my form and came up with this Weekly Self-Assessment. By taking out the middleman and making this a conversation coming from the student, my whole week (life) changed!
The first few weeks we did this, I walked the class through each step. I would give these out at the end of the day on Thursday (Folders in my school went home on Friday). I would guide them through putting the name, date, and talked them through each category.
Example of my directions for following directions. Me: “If I had to speak to you several times every day and other teachers had to remind you what to do, then give yourself a 1. If I spoke to you at least once every day then a 2. If you were reminded of the directions 2-3 days a week, then give yourself a 3. If an adult had to remind you to follow directions only once this week a 4. And if no one had to remind you of the directions this week then congrats, give yourself a 5.
I know you are thinking, “Well, what about my kid that isn’t always honest.”
The key is review them before sending them home. What you will find is that you will have more kids who are hard on themselves than easy. If this was the case, I just wrote a note. I think you were a little hard on yourself this week. You are doing a great job.
For the ones who were too easy, I held a brief conference to have them edit their assessment to accurately reflect the week. I also made a point of explaining any reasoning in the teacher comments. It only takes about 1-2 conferences before they realize it is way easier to do it right the first time.
Yes, that first week I still got the phone calls, emails, and notes, but this time I was able to say, “Well, your child assessed themselves this week. Ask him/her why they rated themselves at a 3.” And man oh man did it work. I’d get a quick apology and the student and parent started talking to each other about the why and how.
It was such an amazing discovery and it brought hidden treats I didn’t even realize. I had some extra space so I added some lines for students to share anything they wanted. They didn’t have to use it, but it was there. Wow, so glad I had that space. My quieter students began communicating with me in that space and I learned how funny, and thoughtful they were. I learned about the questions they wanted to ask, but were too afraid.
To top it off, in the parent comments spot I encouraged parents to write a note to their child about the week. The students really enjoyed reading the notes from their parents. I am so glad this was such a challenge early in my career, because through that challenge grew one of the best parts of my communication. If you would like a FREE copy of my Weekly Self Assessment you can access it here. I included a version for primary and upper elementary grades.
Do you think your teacher friends would like this? Send it on! They will thank you and I thank you!
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