While the rest of the world celebrates the arrival of fall with flannel, scarves, and pumpkin-spiced everything, teachers know that the arrival of fall actually signifies a much bigger ending in their classrooms than just summer. October typically wraps up the first quarter in classroom cadences and with that comes a variety of processes and tasks that only a classroom teacher truly understands. Bulletin boards are changed with the weather, units of study are often brought to a close, and the dreaded report card hustle begins. There are parent phone calls wondering why their kid is failing even though they have done zero work all quarter and this is the first time you’ve had the parent respond to any type of contact. We are sending failure reports to admin and student concerns to guidance. We are re-arranging seating charts based on behavior and maybe even requesting scheduling changes for those students who just need a “fresh start” in a different classroom (bye Felicia…).
With all that chaos, don’t lose sight of these three really important ways that classrooms should be growing and shifting by the end of October:
- Your student performance should begin to show an upward trend. True, Little Timmy still reads three grade levels below where he is supposed to be, but student performance should at least begin to track upwards in October, even for Little Timmy. Take a look at the results of your first benchmark assessments (probably given in September or early October sometime), but don’t stop there. Compare those benchmarks with your student progress, either in their grades and assessment scores or in your ClassMax data – or both, if you really want to rock your world. Who is growing? Who is not? Who is (gulp) regressing? For more information on how to use data to drive rigorous instruction in your classroom, read our article, “Teacher’s Guide: Using Data to Drive Instruction.”
- Regroup your students. Most of us group our kids at the beginning of the school year based on standardized test scores from the previous school year. In a pinch, that’s a good grouping qualification, but hopefully by the end of October, you are starting to see even a small impact from your own instruction. Take some time at the end of the first quarter to re-evaluate your student groups. Perhaps now that you have more data (thanks to ClassMax, wink, wink…), you should be able to group in multiple ways – by performance on standards, by overall grades, by learning types, etc. Take a look at your data and begin forming meaningful groups for your second quarter of instruction.
- Send home behavior reports. While report cards are a fine mode of parent contact, if you’ve been collecting behavior data on your students, why not attach those reports to report cards as well? And for fun, go ahead and require the behavior report be brought back in for a completion grade in the 2nd quarter. This way, you are making meaningful parent contact and covering yourself a bit by sharing what you have seen in your classroom with parents. (TEACHER TIP: I used to print labels that said “Parent Signature” and “Date” on them and I put those on just about anything – tests, quizzes, behavior reports, etc. It’s an easy way to make parent contact without… you know… making parent contact…) Are you an overachieving, going-for-gold-stars teacher? Go ahead and print a cumulative ClassMax student report and send home EVERYTHING you’ve collected on your students. (If your school is a PBIS school, you might be interested in our ClassMax Schools platform that tracks behavior with MaxPoints™.)
As your second quarter kicks off, save yourself some time to focus on instruction – shocking, I know – by ending the first quarter successfully. A little upfront work can make for a much smoother quarter and a much happier teacher.
Pumpkin spiced lattes help, too.