In 14 years of teaching classroom counseling lessons, I’ve had every combination of circumstances: splitting grade levels, sharing grade levels, teaching in the specials rotation, teaching out of the specials rotation, teaching in my own classroom, and traveling to classrooms to teach. I’ve put together 8 ways you can make the most out of traveling to your students’ classrooms if you do not have one of your own!
THE POSITIVES OF TRAVELING
- Students are already in their own classroom. For many, it’s a safe place where they feel comfortable.
- Students have their desks, cubbies, or lockers nearby and have access to their own school supplies, which minimizes what you need to carry into the room.
- Teachers have most likely already seated students strategically to minimize disruptions or conflict and maximize positive relationship-building.
- The classroom teacher might be in and out of the room and may catch parts, if not all, of your lesson to be able to reiterate with the students at a later time.
POTENTIAL CHALLENGES OF TRAVELING
- Each classroom has a different setup to learn and may even have different technology to navigate.
- Sometimes younger students are confused and will ask, “Where is my teacher? Why can’t I eat my snack right now?”
- If students have desks, they are tempted to pull out a book or other supplies and then fidget with them.
- You are still reliant on the teacher to return so you can get to your next class/appointment.
TIPS FOR MAKING THE MOST OUT OF TRAVELING
- ESTABLISH YOUR OWN RULES AND EXPECTATIONS
I find that students sometimes have a hard time separating classroom time from “specials” time when I am in their room. To avoid confusion, set your own rules and expectations from Day 1 and remind your students frequently. I bring this set of colorful classroom rules posters on the first day of class and allow students to vote on their top three rules. I write their three choices on the top of my attendance roster and remind them of their classroom expectations for each other each time I visit. They love having ownership over their rules! I usually add, “If you don’t bring it with you to your other specials classes, such as PE, Library, Music, Art, or Computer, don’t take it out during our time together, either.”
- CARRY CLASS ROSTERS AND TAKE ATTENDANCE
I carry a class roster with all medical notes and accommodations on my clipboard and take attendance for each class. Even if the teacher tells me who is absent or elsewhere, I make a point to take attendance. This helps me learn names, track attendance for report cards and emergencies, and make connections with my students. I usually ask a “Question of the Day” for students to answer when I call their names for roll.
- TRAVEL WITH EXTRA ACTIVITIES
Bring extra activities in case you finish early or the technology in the classroom doesn’t work. Keep a small ball in your bag, like a thumbball or Koosh ball* for simple energizers such as Name Juggling. I have had times where the power went out or the technology was unavailable/not working and I had to improvise. I usually bring a storybook related to the lesson for if we have extra time. Movement activities to recap your lesson are also great ways to fill time! The teachers always appreciate when I return their students back in a calm state, so I keep a ring of laminated mindful moment cards to open and close our time together. (I got mine from Counselor Keri.)
- FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH EACH ROOM’S EMERGENCY PROCEDURES
Learn crisis procedures: how to do all drills in that room, locate evacuation routes, and carry class lists with you (there are apps for this). Along these lines, leave this information any time you have a substitute teaching your class. Keep emergency sub plans updated with a map or list of room numbers and emergency procedures.
- FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH THE CLASSROOM’S TECHNOLOGY
Travel with your Chromebook or jumpdrive for quickly accessing your files. If you can, email teachers in advance if you’re going to be using their computers/presenters — as a courtesy.
- TRANSPORTING MATERIALS
Carry your materials in a roller case, shoulder bag, or even the cardboard lid from a ream of paper box as a makeshift desk. I loved my IKEA 3-tiered cart (similar available at Michaels and Amazon*), which I used at a pod school, but now that I’m in a two-story building, I try to avoid relying on the elevator. I stick with a tote bag, roller case, or paper box lid, depending on how much I need to tote for each lesson.
- WEAR COMFY SHOES!
Wear comfortable shoes for walking all over the school, especially if your classes are back-to-back! For ladies’ shoes, I love my Rothy’s (save $20 with my referral link here!). Side note – I also love my bronze Tieks, but my feet are completely flat and my Rothy’s accommodate for my custom orthotics so my lower back doesn’t ache all day! (Gentlemen — feel free to weigh in with your comfy shoe suggestions in the comments below!)
- MOVE, MOVE, MOVE!
Get students up and out of their seats, especially since they aren’t traveling for their specials time. Invest in a small portable bluetooth speaker* for music, an instant energizer. I bring a class set of 30 colorful rubber spots and we do all kinds of games with music and movement.
With these tips, you can make the most out of traveling to classrooms and may even prefer it to having your own space! I love being able to see students in their everyday classroom environment, and I’m able to interact so much more with the teachers by coming to their rooms. Have you traveled to classrooms? What suggestions would you add to this list?
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