During the first week or two of school, I taught my first and second graders how to walk in a line. It's similar to Jonathan's reasoning behind making his kids practice lining up at his door . . . to help teach them respect but also I have an issue with noise when I'm stressed. Small noises can become overwhelming during tense situations (my distraction by the noise can be so bad I've wondered where it would put me on the autism spectrum). Anyway, walking with 20-30 kids in a line can, at times, test a person's patience.
I like to preemptively address the noise issue of kids dragging their feet while they walk . . . lots of kids do it.I would take them to the blacktop and have them line up next to each other on a line facing me. I would demonstrate two ways of walking, one with dragging feet and one with me picking my feet off the ground. I asked the kids if they notice anything about how I'm walking and see if they can figure out the differences.
If you have 20 out of 30 kids dragging their feet as they walk, it can get loud. As my class walked past classrooms, I wanted them to be as non-disruptive as possible; for me this meant quiet mouths and quiet feet.
Which is quieter?
Why might it be bad to drag your feet?
What can it do to your shoes?
Some vocabulary that I define for them:
"pick up your feet" - meaning don't drag them while you step
After I've modeled the differences and we've discussed them, I have them walk and see if they notice things about how they walk.
Are they shuffling their feet?
Are their feet noisy or quiet?
Can they walk quickly and quietly?
While practicing, some kids tend to walk slowly so that they are more quiet and others try lifting their legs too high and thus start marching. I act out what I see kids doing and help them to become aware of how they walk. My goal is to get them to realize what it feels like to walk with "quiet feet" or without dragging, shuffling, or marching.
You might be thinking that this seems a bit strict or obsessive on my part but it just plays into my teaching style. I like to have an easy-going, fun classroom environment but this cannot be achieved if there is a lot of time being wasted or we aren't being respectful to each other. By modeling and using language to help them understand what I mean, I can use that language the whole rest of the year to remind them of my expectations.
Quiet mouths and quiet feet, let's respect the students trying to learn in the classrooms we are passing.
We want to hear from you . . . What do you do with your students in line to keep sane?