Essential Tips and Practical Applications For the New TeacherBy Patricia Blanchard Petitt
The first day of school was here. The day opened well, student’s trickled in with brand new pencils, other supplies and smiley faces. They were ready to begin the new school day. I was prepared with lesson plans in hand, activities for the week, and I so proudly carried my new clipboard with each of my student’s names, contact person’s telephone number and how they would get home. However, I sure do wish I had the following list to help make my first day, and first year, more successful:
• Shake each students hand before they enter the classroom door. It immediately creates connectedness that is welcoming, shows interest and emotionally supports the student as he grows and learns in your classroom. At the end of the day, shake each students hand and let the students know how much you appreciated having them in your class. Always find something positive to say about your student. When students are left with a positive feeling they are usually more disciplined and focused for instruction as the new day begins.
• Make sure you document on the first day how your students will go home. Have parents/caregivers communicate telephone numbers along
with names of the person(s) who are authorized to pick your student(s) up during dismissal. Communication is a key component to keeping
students safe and you free from liability risks.
• Provide a letter to the parent/caregiver introducing you. Included in this letter is information about the school’s attendance policy, dress code, bell schedule, lunch time, conference period, party protocol, restroom breaks, sick at school/home notification, dismissal schedule, school’s office contact number, excuses for absences and pick up point for the student at dismissal.
• Prepare and prepare more for the first day and the possibility of an extension of lessons throughout the first week of school. Depending on your students, you may have those who finish quicker than others. Provide focused extension activities on the lesson objective to stretch students thinking. Authentic student work is always recommended. There are various resources teachers can use to provide students with additional learning experiences on a specific topic or subject matter.
• Have a specific plan and place for supplies students will bring on the first day of school. Whether you implement the community shared supply method or allow students to keep and use their own supplies throughout the year, a well organized classroom has a plan in place to address this issue. Usually, the shared supply method, works well. On notebooks, where the student’s name is written you may use a small label to cover the name. Crayons, markers, pencils and glue sticks are usually placed inside a small bin for students to use collaboratively at the desk area.
• Arrange your room so you have complete examination of each desk, table, bookshelf, workstation area, pocket chart stand or easel from any angle in the classroom. Keep aisles clear and free from debris to prevent trips or falls. Workstation supplies can be kept in large baggies or bins and tucked away with easy access for students at workstation time. Remember, it is imperative to make available to students a setting which is safe and provides collaborative experiences throughout the school year.
• Establish rules, procedures, and routines at the beginning of school year. Establish a community within the classroom. Pick a place within the classroom as the designated meeting area where students are close and afforded opportunities to think, pair and share ideas with others. Use short sayings to reinforce expectations such as; “go, flush, wash and toss” when students use the restroom. “We walk, not talk” when moving from place to place. When illustrating pictures we use the acronym, ABCD. Students must draw pictures: Accurate, Big, Colorful and Detailed. Always model concepts for students so they will know the expectations before they begin and end an assignment.
• Classroom management will either, make or break you as a teacher, so be sure to revisit rules throughout the day. Remind students to apply what they know about the rules to assist them in managing their behavior. Have a consistent signal to move your students into compliance when necessary to reestablish order. You may use a simple patterned hand clap where students echo the pattern to refocus their attention. As the classroom teacher, remember to be firm but fair in addressing behavior issues. Present a visual [more on next page]