Before you go back to the classroom, a little planning regarding your first day and first week at school will go a long way in setting the tone for the new academic year. In this month’s Ilm o Amal, TRC staff has compiled a list of simple and easy-to-do steps that will help your students and you ease into the new school year and stay motivated till the end.
It is time to go back to school and get the new academic year off to a healthy start. You can simply go over the syllabus with your students and jump into the lesson…or you can take a few steps to make the first day or at least the first week of school interesting, setting a positive tone for the rest of the year.
1. Spruce up the classroom: You can put up pictures from last year of your students having fun while doing activities. You can also put in flowers and plants around your classroom to brighten things up. You can liven up your classroom with a colourful banner or a poster or you can simply do up the cupboards or the bulletin board. You can also put up a motivational quote in the classroom which could also be used to start an ice breaking class discussion. None of this should take too long however it will go a long way in bringing a fresh look to your classroom and lifting the spirit.
2. On the first day tell your students that participation is the key to success in your class. To start off the process ask everyone to introduce themselves. Encourage children to open up to you and with each other by starting a class discussion.
3. Talk about why your subject is important. In a dry academic environment where they spend a lot of time hunched over books and notebooks, a lot of children end up questioning the value of studying certain subjects. So plan a little talk about the value of your subject in real life, which should boost your student’s enthusiasm for it.
4. Share a set of rules and expectations with your students. Tell your students that you expect them to review what they learn every day. If you expect them to take notes, tell them and if you take frequent quizzes, tell them how often. Set deadlines regarding homework and talk about the consequences for missed homework.
Also take the time to mutually decide with your students on the list of classroom behavior rules and anything else that you can think of. Don’t have too many rules on the first day as that will put them off. Keep the rules simple and easy to follow and also tell your students that this is an evolving list and that you will be mutually establishing the class rule throughout the year as and when the need arises.
5. Be approachable. Get to know each other a little. This will help you communicate with each other. One way to do this is to talk about yourself or share a personal story with your students. You can also help students see your human side by talking a little about your family. Some students find it difficult to deal with authority figures and this will put them at ease.
6. Set the tone for the class. If you have been teaching for a while, you will have some idea of how you like to teach and what kind of environment you like in the class. Do you like a relaxed atmosphere? Do you like to be serious and formal? Or do you like to crack jokes while you teach? However you like your classroom, try and establish it on the first day through your interaction with the students.
7. With older students you can talk about your qualifications and professional background such as how many years you have been teaching. It is a great way to break the ice and establishes that you know what you are talking about.
8. Greet your students by name when you welcome them into the classroom. Addressing students by their names conveys that their attendance is valued in your classroom and that you care. Make it a priority to learn everyone’s name and use it as often as possible to address them.
9. Have a class seating arrangement in mind when you come to the class. However later you can mutually decide on a seating plan with your students that works for both of you.
10. As you take the attendance on the first day, make a positive remark for each student. Say things like ‘Great to have you in my class!’ or ‘You will really enjoy this class.’ If you know some of the students from previous years, refer to their strengths or any past achievements. Make the effort to pronounce names correctly and convey that you are glad that they are in your class.
11. Take the time to really observe each child and make a note of what seems like their strength or special skill. Give them specific praise related to your observation, the next day or even at the end of the first day.
12. Have a fun activity that is related to your subject to motivate your students. You can have a treasure hunt, a class discussion, a story or you can give your students a puzzle.
13. If you have to give homework on the first day, make sure it is easy, short, and sparks your students’ interest. For instance science teachers can ask students to find the name of a gadget that was invented during the student’s lifetime. A history teacher could assign children to talk to their parents about a recent historical event and write a short paragraph on it. A PE teacher could ask children to find out the world record for a particular sport. This should whet the student’s appetite for the coming weeks and leave them curious and interested in what you are about to teach.
After a wonderful summer break that was hopefully full of rest and relaxation, we hope these tips help get your school year off to a great start.