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Geoffrey
 
 
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recess: Walk in or Line-up?
Old 11-11-2019, 05:35 PM
 
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Our school recently did a recess survey in which we watched students and staff and took notes on recess behaviors.

We noticed that lining up for recess is one of our biggest issues. Some students are slow getting to the lines but staff are too busy keeping those in line calm and ready to go in to help them. Many of our problems are directly related to the lines of students waiting to go in. Problems include pushing, rock tossing, arguments, students jumping on each other (for fun and sometimes in anger), wanderers, inattention, and a wide variety of teacher responses to their students when they arrive to collect them. We have seen positive interactions turn sour just in the time it takes to walk from the playground to the classroom. Many recesses end with teachers having to handle negative behaviors that happened after the bell rang, wasting class time and diverting attention away from positive student behavior.

So, we've been researching and brain-storming solutions. One question that came up was whether students should line-up or if we could try to train them to just come into the classroom on their own. Our theory is that if they are not crowded into under-supervised lines and taught to calmly enter the building, they will not have time to interact negatively with each other. When the bell rings, teachers could just step into the hall and wait for students to flow in more naturally and recess staff could focus on getting stragglers into the classroom.

It we can gather more information about this process, we are considering implementing it slowly and reverting to lines if it doesn't show the results we desire. This is a different way of thinking for us. We wonder if other schools have tried it, if there has been any research on it, and what other educators think of this solution. Not only would I like your ideas, but I would love links to articles or research that might be helpful. Thank you.


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Old 11-17-2019, 06:20 PM
 
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That’s an interesting thought. Our school also lines kids up to re-enter the building after lunch and recess and experiences some of the same behaviors you describe.

However, when students enter in the morning, kids just come in and teachers are at the door and in the halls and there is rarely a problem.
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Old 11-18-2019, 04:48 AM
 
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That’s actually a really neat idea. I think that could work really well. You’re right, we spent many minutes standing inside the recess door waiting for the monitors to get everyone quiet. We weren’t really allowed to interfere, because it was “the monitor’s domain” and offensive.

The biggest pitfalls I think would be:
1) coming in quietly. There are generally other classes still learning during other recesses, and coming in still wound up off the playground might be disruptive. A solution could be to a) train and reward students for quiet entry, b) allow whispering instead of complete silence as a transition and wind down, and c) intentionally schedule recess by “chunks” of the building so others aren’t disrupted as students walk by.

2) Arranging supervision that ensure every student is getting in the door. The solution is just to station the monitor there until the last straggler is in the door.
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Old 11-18-2019, 05:57 AM
 
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I like the idea, but I wonder. Often during recess, teachers aren't just in their room working. They run to the bathroom, the workroom, or to meet with a colleague. So they may have to be trained to be there in the classroom vicinity right after the bell rings (instead of waiting 3-5 minutes for all kids to be lined up so they can pick them up.) We often use the time for a few more minutes of getting something done.
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Old 11-18-2019, 08:54 PM
 
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Key is supervision with proximity. There is a direct relationship between how students behave and their physical distance from the teacher. Consider: If you are a student bent on goofing off and, as you enter the hallway, you see six teachers standing outside their rooms what are the odds you will try to run by all six teachers or mess around with a friend? How about if you look down the hall and see only one teacher or maybe two, spaced several rooms apart?

I recall subbing at a school some time back. The school was remarkable. When students came in from recess and went to lunch there were no teachers in the halls. Students walked and chatted quietly. No grabbing, loud voices or games. Just kids hustling to class or lunch in orderly fashion without supervision. At lunch in the staff room I asked several teachers, “Okay, I’ve been to a lot of schools. Transitions are a zoo. How do you do it?” Their reply, “Well, you weren’t here the first three weeks of school when we were training the students. Every teacher, whether assigned duty or not, stood in halls during passing periods like recess, lunch and dismissal. At any time there was a teacher within a few feet of any student. Yes, we had other teaching duties to perform like planning instruction but made this, discipline, our first priority. After the first three weeks we backed off to every other day for two weeks. Then we spot checked, all voluntary, a couple times a week, before and after holidays and specials like assemblies. What you are seeing is the result of six weeks of proactive discipline.”

What this school was doing is what most teachers agree to when asked is it better to be “proactive” or “reactive”. They put in their time up front, the first six weeks, so they could concentrate on instruction the rest of they year. Opposite are teachers who agree proactive is the way to go, but in the moment of truth, choose instruction over discipline - “It takes too much time, and I have too much to teach.” Irony is if one was to put a stopwatch on the number of off-task minutes, stopping lessons to constantly deal with discipline and/or spend five minutes every transition for student to “settle in”, over the course of a school year far more minutes are lost due to reteaching rules each and every day until June.


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