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How to Establish Consistency in Your Classroom

Learn how to establish consistency in your classroom from education consultant Grace Dearborn in this Howcast video.


Really the only way to establish consistency in your classroom is to be consistent in the way that you are enforcing your expectations with your students or reinforcing your expectations with students. But that's easier said than done. So one thing you can do is to really practice being consistent in one particular area of your teaching, and then that practice will not only help you be consistent in that area, but will spread to your general ability to be consistent.

For example, a good place to start is with students raising their hands to speak. That's a good place to start because we all do it. We all ask students to raise their hands to speak. Some of us do it a lot more routinely than others, but we all do it sometimes. So there are so many opportunities to potentially practice being consistent around that.

Just a note though, being consistent around having students raise their hands to speak is not about getting them to raise their hands every time they speak. It's only about getting it when we ask for it. Sometimes we don't want them to raise their hands. Sometimes I might say to a class, "Are we ready then?" And I'm expecting a general response from kind of everybody in the class at one time. But if I say, "Raise your hand, and let me know if you know an answer to question number six." Then I expect a raised hand. And if a student blurts out, or a student raises their hand and then blurts out, if I honor that blurted out response, I'm not consistently reinforcing my hand raising rule.

Once kids understand that you will honor a blurted out response even when you've asked for a raised hand, that's all you're going to get. And the noise level is off the chart and your consistency is deteriorating. So when you ask for it, make sure you get it. If you ask for the raised hand, the student blurts out an answer, "Thank you, Sally for going half way with that procedure. I do actually need you to wait until I call on you though. If you would please raise your hand, wait until I call on you. I'll call on you and we can talk about what you said."

Reinforcing the procedure or honoring the procedure before or above, we honor the response, even if it was a correct response or an interesting response, or came from a student who doesn't normally participate. We still need to establish a routine of consistency in our classroom. Practicing around one area like hand raising will help us build that and spread that consistency to all areas of our teaching.

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