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Example of a classroom Chalkboard
Example of a classroom Chalkboard

Tips for the Classroom


Getting to Know Your Students

  • Learn your students' names - Have them make name tents on the first day and encourage them to display the tents during their Generation Citizen class. When students speak, ask them to say their name before stating their question or comment.
  • Greet them at the door - As students enter the classroom, meet them at the door. Say "Hello" or "Good Morning". This little gesture already sets the tone for the rest of the class. Stand at the door upon dismissal and say goodbye as you collect Exit Tickets (more on Exit Tickets below). 

Interacting with each student isn't impossible

  • Group work - During group work walk around the classroom and sit with each group. This is a great way for you to understand personality types and get to know your students on a one-on-one level. 
  • Lesson plans - Your classroom teacher has the DC handbook and is well aware of what you will be teaching. However, if you're going the extra mile to create your own lesson plans, please email the lessons ahead of time to your teacher. This way he/she has an idea of what today's class will be about. They can also warn you about topics or other information the students are not allowed to have access to or can't handle. 

Positive Reinforcement

  • Acknowledging good behavior - Try to build students' self-esteem as much as possible. For example, let's say the students come into the classroom from a talent show -- they are loud and you can't seem to get them to begin the Do-Now. This is where positive reinforcement comes into play. Begin ackowledging people who are on task: "Thank you Giselle for taking your pen and handbook out". "Steve is silently getting ready to do the Do-Now". By acknowledging this, other students will also want reassurance so they'll make an active effort to start the Do-Now. 

Getting your students' attention

  • Countdown method - 5-4-3-2-1. At 1, students should be completely quiet. If you notice that students continue to talk after the countdown, try imposing a penalty: maybe extra work or homework. You can also have an article with questions printed that you can keep on hand, should something like this ever happen. 
  • Using names - Call students by name. They'll see that (1) you know their name and (2) you do not tolerate them talking while you're talking.
  • Test your students' attention - "If you can hear me, give me five", "eyes on me if you can hear me" or "clap if you hear me".

Checking for understanding

  • Throwback - Call on a student to repeat (throw it back to you) what you just said. This is a great opportunity for you both because you can see if your directions are clear and if the student understands what is expected. 

Classroom observation

  • Bring a state I.D. with you
  • Know the school (some buildings have more than one school in them)
  • Know the teacher's name
  • Ask your teacher about resources such as printing, poster paper, markers and so on
  • Ask your teacher for a class roster and perhaps ask about the students' work ethic



"How do I implement exit tickets and make sure the students take them seriously?" 

  • Have students complete exit tickets on an index card, a Post-It, or on a piece of paper. This way you can take the tickets home, read them and grade them. 
  • Develop a clear and precise grading system that you and the students can follow. Using the "check plus", "check", "check minus" technique is perfect! Those who have a "check" or "check minus" are required to fully complete the exit ticket and resubmit. If you want a student to resubmit a ticket, you can attach a new index card to the original card; this way, the student can't claim that he/she didn't have a spare card to write the new response on.
  • In addition to giving students a grade, write constructive feedback: "What do you mean by...?" "How can we improve...?"
  • Try to avoid writing feedback in red ink. Red ink makes your comments look harsh and might make you feel too powerful while grading. More info here. Use a color that the students don't use, like purple or green, so your comments are clearly distinguished from the students' writing.
  • You will sometimes meet students who will test you and write smart comments on exit tickets. Great comments are "Interesting" or "Let's talk about this". A simple smiley face is also acceptable :). This way they know that you took the time to read and comment on their response. 


Four Corner
four corners.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 1.1 MB
Goal Setting Worksheet
Adobe Acrobat Document 58.4 KB

Examples of Past Civics Day Projects

PowerPoint Timers

Classroom management has been a common problem amongst our Democracy Coaches. If you are using PowerPoints, we recommend implementing these timers into your presentation for you and your students. 

Microsoft Power Point Presentation 1.5 MB

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Recipient of "Dean Emmanuel Heller Meritorious Service Award," Spring 2014

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