*EYES AND EARS ON ME: We all have those little squirrels who play with their shoelaces, braid the girl's hair next to her, roll about on the carpet, etc. Keeping tabs on those kiddos and redirecting them when they aren't focused is crucial to ensuring kids don't miss what is going on- I frequently remind my students that seeing what I am showing and doing is as important as hearing what I am saying for them to understand what is going on. TIP: Do a visual scan to be sure students are paying attention before you start talking, especially when giving instructions or other important communications. This makes a huge difference!
*UTILIZING OUR RESOURCES: I make sure there are tons of supports for my students to access at all times, whether that be our contextualized bulletin boards, word banks in their folders, songs that we sing to help us remember vocabulary, etc. It is my responsibility to remind them those supports are available, and explicitly teach how to use them. Little kiddos do not all intuitively utilize these types of supports so regularly reminding them they are available is a huge help!
*MAKING THE EFFORT: We as teachers are very used to telling our students that putting forth their best effort is an integral part of their learning. I liken it to being a member on a sports team- you wouldn't just sit out on the sidelines and expect to get better at soccer, would you? Of course not! You need to be in the game to improve, and the same goes for school. For my part, I need to support and celebrate my students' efforts, making it part of "business as usual" in terms of how I interact with my students.
At the beginning of the school year, I have the above conversation with my students, and then we come back to it regularly. Letting students know that you are part of a team with them, that you have responsibilities, too, builds community in your classes and tightens the bond you have with your students, and shows them it is a two way street- working together as a partnership makes for a great year of learning!