Every teacher is different. Every group of children is different. Before a classroom can be successful, you must evaluate your group and prioritize what is most important to you and the children. Below are 16 secrets to classroom success. After reviewing the material below, prioritize the items and create a action plan to best benefit your classroom success.
Keep your classroom organized
A big part of classroom success is for the adult to accept that they are a role model to the children. As we model self-help skills and organization, we are teaching important routines and techniques that support both social and emotional development. Remember, the way your classroom looks is an impression of your teaching style. A cluttered, unorganized classroom can be a reflection of a unorganized teacher. Make the most of first impressions. A organized classroom will also help teachers stay one-step ahead of the children, which is critical for classroom success.
Create and follow a schedule
Children need routine and structure. Children with challenging behaviors and aggression need structure more than anyone. Routine and structure creates a safe and nurturing environment. Children do not like, nor can they emotionally handle surprises. When a teacher throws a curve ball at the children, it creates a sense of insecurity, allowing the children to wonder if they are in a structured and safe environment. A huge secret to classroom success is reassuring the children that they are safe. Children need to be aware of what is happening and what will happen next. Pictoral schedules placed at the child’s eye level will help children understand and follow a schedule, setting them up for success in the classroom and success in life.
Gather and prepare materials ahead of time
Any of us who have worked in a classroom knows that sometimes planned activities work, and sometimes they don’t! When you have that activity that goes straight down the toilet, you must be ready and prepared to move on to the next thing, or be ready to think on your feet. Having materials ready and available will help avoid waiting times or missed opportunities. Always be ready to pull the rabbit out of the magic hat. Successful teachers have multiple activities planned and ready as a back-up when that lesson goes south.
Plan for transition time
As mentioned earlier, children do not like or understand surprises. This can completely “ROCK THEIR WORLD” However, what is the definition of a transition? It is a change! That is why transitions need to be planned very specifically. The most successful transitions are theme based and something that is familiar to the children. Routines and consistency is needed with transitions. Yet a teacher can adapt the transition to the current theme to help keep the flow of learning on the child’s mind. Engage children with excitement, body language and different tones to keep them focused on the transition, rather than allow their mind to focus on the change in environment or activity. Keeping children excited about what will happen next is a huge secret to classroom success.
Take a look at your classroom set up
Every year we have a different group of children in our classroom. A success classroom arrangement is needed to meet each child’s individual needs. Not only do each group of children learn differently, but as children develop and learn, their environment must also change and adapt. Take a look at your classroom set up quarterly. Take notes on what is working and what is not working. Are the children able to be successful with the equipment in your classroom? Are you able to properly supervise children with your current arrangement? Can you easily engage children across your classroom while working with small groups. Can you quickly move and position yourself around the classroom to prevent disruptive situations. These are all items you must keep in mind to have a successful classroom set up.
Take care of your health
This one is simple. You cannot take care of the children in your classroom unless you take care of yourself first. Again, you are accountable as a role model to the children and their families. Being a healthy teacher involves a strong focus on both your mental and physical health. Create a classroom environment focused on healthy decisions. Speak to children about ways you keep yourself healthy and focused. You are a huge influence on the children. What you value, they will value.
Ask for help when needed
No matter how awesome you are, no one can be successful in a early education program alone. It takes the entire team. We are in a world of constant questions, challenges and some very interesting personalities. Asking your team members for help and advice will not only bring success, it will put a strong focus on fellowship and collaboration. Don’t let your pride get in the way. There is nothing wrong with asking for help when help is needed.
Build professional relationships with your parents, co-workers, and children
This is a complete training in itself! Professional relationships are the key to success. Once you make a connection, you establish trust and respect. Trust and respect is the foundation for confidence, and confidence leads to success. It all flows together. Children are natural pleasers. They want to make us happy. Especially when a relationship is formed. Teachers who create loving relationships experience a higher level of success in not only learning, but also social and emotional development. Parents who are comfortable with their child’s caregiver are more supportive to learning. You become the expert in the field. Parents feel confident that you are the right role model for their child.
Leave your personal life at home
Let’s face it, we all have drama in our personal lives. We are human! Drama follows us everywhere. The difference between some people and others is our attitude towards this drama and how we allow it to emotionally affect us. Many times we think that we are here for children. But in reality the children are here for us. Working as an early educator and being focused on your classroom will create a safe-haven from your dramatic personal life. It is a time to be free from this distraction and focus on love and positivity. Don’t allow yourself to get emotionally hijacked. Do not allow your personal drama to lead your life. You are in control, and you have to decide when and where this drama can show it’s ugly face. The fewer times you allow this, the more it will eventually go away.
Tell every child “I love you” every day
Children need to be loved. They need to know that they are loved. You must find the correct way to fill each child’s love tank. Telling a child that you love them is a great way to reassure the connection you have made with the child. There is a difference between loving someone and being “in-love” with someone. Unconditionally loving a child for who they are is the easiest and best way to support the child’s emotional growth. We have too many children that are addicted to negative attention in todays world. Make a focus on creating an addiction to positive attention and the need for love in your classroom.
Hug every child every day
Just like love, children require physical touch for nurturing and reassurance. The child’s love tank must be filled before learning and discipline can take place. Hugs are a great way to establish the connection between the child and the caregiver. Hugs are also the easiest way to tell a child “I love you and you are important to me.” Hugs can also be a powerful way eliminate stress and anxiety. Making hugs a natural part of your classroom environment will help guarantee success.
Keep a smile on your face
You know the old quote, “Fake it till you make it!” The truth is, a simple smile increases the fill-good endorphins that run through your body. Focus on gratitude. Remind yourself everything that is good in your life. This will surely make you smile. It is impossible to be blessed and stressed at the same time. A smile is the universal language of friendship. People who smile are more likable, more successful, and have stronger relationships. Focus on the difference you are making in the children’s lives and the success you are setting up for them. Knowing the influence you make will keep those ugly frowns off your face.
Children prefer to hear their caregivers voice over any recording. They want to hear YOU sing! Don’t worry if you are out of tone. Don’t worry if you cannot carry a note. This is not American Preschool Idol! The children will not judge your ability to sing. Singing is a great way to relieve stress. Singing is also engaging. The children will surely follow your lead when you start belting out your favorite age-appropriate tunes.
Treat others how you would like to be treated
Respect is a two way street. If you want to be treated with respect, you must treat others with respect. Children, parents, and co-workers are looking at your behavior and will model their interactions with you based on how you treat them. This is the mirror effect and is common with emotionally based relationships. In a world where connections are so challenged and the lack of relationships is growing, modeling compassion and empathy has become even more important then ever. Imagine a classroom where all children and caregivers treat each other with respect and love. Could this classroom be yours? Absolutely, and you will experience the highest level of success!
Leave work every day with a smile on your face
When you leave work with a smile, it is easier to return to work with a smile. While I understand your day is long, your patience is thin, and your muscles are aching, leaving work with a sense of accomplishment and pride well help boost your sense of worthiness. You just spent a entire day making a difference! Be proud of that. And guess what, you get to do it all over again tomorrow. You are very blessed to have the opportunity to work in early education.
Remember, you cannot change the world overnight
Smart phones, streaming movies and TV, downloads… We live in a world of instant gratification. We want results and we want it right now! Reality check. You cannot download success. You cannot stream learning. Success is a process, and a process takes time. Keep in mind that skills and techniques must be practiced 2,000 times before it can be mastered. It’s like losing weight and getting in shape. One trip to the gym does not make you an instant hottie! It takes time and determination.