“Setting expectations” is part of classroom management 101. What they mean is, getting the kids comfortable with the routines and with how they are supposed to behave at various points in the day. What I think is often left out is setting your OWN expectations.
I started the year with grand plans. I was so excited to be back in the classroom and was full of ideas of the things we could explore together. I thought once we got comfortable with our “meeting time” routine was could jump right in. Well, after about a week I realized my expectations weren’t calibrated correctly. My class was bright, enthusiastic, happy to be at school…and needed more time to get used to how meeting time worked.
I spent one day beating myself up that I was doing something “wrong” because circle time wasn’t running smoothly. Then I watched them figuring things out, waiting to hear what their friend said before they spoke up, raising their hand, able to sit next to a friend without getting too distracted. It made me realize that our learning was happening in a big way, it just looked “ordinary” because we were figuring out how to be a class together.
I think early learning AND museum educators see all the wonderful potential for the kids in their programs and the collections they have at their fingertips and get a little greedy. They want to do it all right away. It’s important to remember that success isn’t measured by the vocabulary word that the kids can rattle off, or how many paintings they’ve seen. Every moment spent getting in the groove of the day, getting comfortable with routines and learning to be with others is time well spent.