Resetting Classroom Culture through Mini-Keynote Presentations

Third Grade has different challenges than every other grade, and that fact surprises me more often than I like. Class culture can be a challenge in 3rd grade, the best kids I know can turn on each other quickly. When this happens in the Makerspace I need to fix it, for the preservation of everyone's creativity and safety.

Resetting Class Culture

I have found that when I put unreasonable expectations on myself, I am challenged and do some of my best work in that challenge.The expectation of the day “Don't Make Kids Do Anything.” This sounds impossible in a classroom I know. I have found in my teaching that it is almost impossible to make anyone do anything. I have also found that when teachers set up their will in opposition to the will of their students, the environment is less supportive of learning for all students.

Within this expectation is the lived reality of 3rd-grade inquiry and innovation class, which is doing groundbreaking work, but has hit a class culture speed bump.  They aren't working with an awareness of each other. We had 2 accidents in the same class period, so it was time to reset.

As the specialist, I see this class once a week and I know that the classroom teachers have had conversations with the kids and I know 2 kids even had a conversation with the administration. I had a follow-up conversation with the administration, and we discussed how to keep the Makerspace safe for all students.

When I had my time with the students I started in my STEAM space. The floor is carpeted and it is set up for younger students. The room did a great deal of work in the following conversation, setting a tone.

Don't be Grumpy, be Inspirational

I ran a mini-keynote. It wasn't a discussion, until the very end. We brainstormed habits and ideas that would help our workshop do better work.  After that, I had them reply to me in writing because I wanted to keep the tone fairly formal.

When they went to the tables, they complained because the chairs were too small. We then talked about how this room didn't fit them. This was why it was important to get it right in the other room.

After the first, heavy, part of class,  we moved back to the Makerspace and used Google Draw to design signs for the Makerspace to encourage supportive work. I featured a couple signs on social media. I will blog that process soon.

What are your Culture Shifting Strategies?

How do you “reset” with your kids?  I only had a response as graceful as “minikeynote” because I had a week to cool off, talk to other teachers, buy more safety gloves, and find my ownership of what happened, allowing me to begin to fix the rift. Leave your tricks and tactics in the comments and let's chat about it.


About the author, Sam

Sam is Makerspace coordinator at Echo Horizon School, the nicest little school on Los Angeles' West Side. In the classroom since '02 Sam has taught grades PreK-12. Every lesson is a writing lesson.

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