List of Questions
What Matters: Big Questions
- What is your classroom philosophy in 3-5 sentences? Do your students know that? If so, how?
- What are the major values you want upheld in your classroom?
- What are the essential skills you want students to come away with?
- What habits of mind are important in your students?
- What traits are going to be most important characteristics for my students to have?
- What important messages about learning do you want students to leave your class with?
- What important messages about math do you want students to leave your class with?
- What important messages about your specific class do you want students to leave with?
How Things Are: Physical Spaces
- How are desks arranged? Are there different desk arrangements?
- Do you use a seating chart? How do you decide how students are arranged?
- What supplies do you need, where do you keep them, and how do students get them?
- What are important classroom decorations and/or things to put on your walls?
- How should students organize themselves/their papers? What different types of physical things do students need (notebooks, binders, strips of scratch paper, etc.)?
- Where do students look for important daily information (agenda, objectives, homework, etc.)?
- What is the purpose of ‘the board’ in your classroom? Who uses it?
The Way Things Go: In-Class Structures
- How do you/students keep track of assignments and/or papers?
- How do you collect & return papers? (Including late assignments)
- How do you start class? If you use warm-ups, how are they done? How do you end class?
- How do you review homework and/or deal with material from the previous day?
- What are every-day systems and structures (like reading the agenda, systematic or regular parts of class)?
- How do students know when to move from one mode of learning to another?
- How do you call on students (how do students call on each other)?
- How do you get students’ attention during an activity? What if that takes “too long”?
- What is important to keep track of at the end of a day? Where/how do you keep this record? (Examples: where each class ended, individual student conversations for the next day, formative assessment data, habitual student behaviors)
- How do you record and share grades with students?
- What is the tardy policy? How do you keep track of tardies?
- What needs to be done for students to make up absences? When does this occur? What is the policy for students who are out making up work/coming for help? Do students need to complete all assignments? Classifying assignments as makeupable or not?
- What participation structures are important to your class? (Examples: individual practice time, lecture time, presentation time, group-activities, whole-Class, attacking a new problem, note-taking, etc.)
- How do you differentiate activities for different levels of understanding?
- How do you keep track of time? How do students keep track of time?
All Things Graded: Assessment & Grading System
- What is your grading system? Points? (Weighted) averages? SBG? Random number generators?
- How will you know what students know?
- How will you check in with students?
- What activities/parts of the day are graded?
- How is late work treated?
- Do you give extra credit? What is it used for? Points, tardies, homework passes, etc.?
- What is the purpose of homework?
- What do grades mean? (Content mastery? Improvement? Positive Behaviors? Etc.)
- How do you differentiate practice vs. mastery?
People in the Room: Norms & Classroom Conduct
- What are your norms for behaving/learning (behavior)?
- What are your norms for socializing/working in groups (social)?
- What are your norms for doing math (sociomathematical)?
- What are the norms for students dealing with something they’ve never seen before?
- Are there special norms for specific participation structures you have (tests, students at the board, hand-raising, etc.)?
- How do you teach norms/how are they discussed at the beginning of the year? How does your teaching change throughout the year with respect to norms?
- What are your non-negotiables?
- What is the series of consequences for an action? How are these reinforced? How do students know the consequences for their actions?
- What behaviors do you explicitly try to praise? How do you do that?
When Things Fall Apart: The What-If List
- …a student becomes ill during class?
- ….you see fishy behavior in the halls?
- …someone makes a mistake?
- …someone makes fun of someone else?
- …someone makes a non-classroom appropriate comment (racial/sexual/derogatory of any kind)?
- …the noise level is too high?
- …a student doesn’t have a pencil?
- …someone is a blurter?
- …someone has a tendency to sleep in class?
- …you suspect a student of being drunk/high?
- …someone refuses to do the work/assignment?