It is the teacher’s job to reconnect with students and to make them feel comfortable and ready to settle down to studies in the coming year. A new academic year begins, and pupils are faced with a new teacher, new classroom and a lot of insecurity about what to expect.Coming from a relaxed vacation period, many will be apprehensive about the teacher and the atmosphere of the classroom, and this gives the teacher the ideal opportunity to help them feel informed and to get over those first day back worries.
It is wise to introduce yourself as a teacher. Although some of the students may be familiar with you from a distance, getting to know you and the way you work is vital. Don’t be over familiar, but lay down the ground rules for how you work without being intimidating. Students understand a clear strategy and this is an all important time to discuss you as a teacher and your approach to their studies.
Use this opportunity to talk to the students about things you did in the vacation period, as this presents the teacher as a human being they can relate to.
~Getting to know students.
Not only does the teacher need to get to know the students, but the students may be unfamiliar with other kids in the class. The first day is the ideal time to get over the unfamiliarity and get the students talking about themselves. An all round introduction is a great ice breaking idea and here, you can use those fresh memories of the vacation to help you.
Ask each student in turn to introduce themselves and to talk about what they did during the vacation. This gives great insight to teaching staff and to students, since from this initial introduction, it is possible to find out which students have which attitudes. This will be very helpful in the coming year, as it gives the teacher an idea of strengths and weaknesses from day one.
~Introducing the course work.
Of course, students are in the educational facility to learn. Giving the students an overall plan of what will be covered in the coming term is ideal. They will have a better idea of your expectations, and you in turn, will have a better idea of their acceptance of these plans. This helps because often those children who anticipate difficulty will look baffled and you can get a lot of information from their faces while introducing the topics to be covered.
~Letting them know the availability of after school help.
It follows the introduction to the work anticipated that all students are made aware of what help they can get. Often teachers fail because without this essential introduction students who are slipping in their studies don’t know where they can go for help. If this is made clear from the very outset of term, there are no question marks, and students are more focused and able to overcome problems encountered.
If there are resources available to the class, let them know about it. For example, the students may have access to IT equipment or there may be special sections in the library which can help them with their studies. Give a child knowledge, and they can learn. Give them the resources to study, and they can strengthen the learning process.
~Relevance of studies to real life.
Often this is an area where teachers fail. How often is it heard that children question the validity of learning certain aspects simply because they see no significance to their lifestyle. Why do we have to learn French? or Why do we need to learn equations?. If a teacher is able to demonstrate how these relate to lifestyle, they give a much more human approach which students can understand. This opens up all kinds of areas for discussion and incentives for students to learn.
In the first days of a new year, students may not be aware of where certain classes are, or have any idea of the agenda or timetable. The orientation part of introducing new students to a new year is vital. Those students who are lost and left to their own devices feel inadequate. This inadequacy leads to children not fulfilling their potential.
Be aware that discussing the program of work, where each workshop is held and who will be involved, helps them to feel more at home. Printed timetables are helpful, though each child could copy this from the blackboard if prepared in advance. The disadvantage of this method is the time wasting involved. If the time tables and information are printed in advance, it is much simpler to hand these out and then spend five or ten minutes answering any questions students have.
With more and more cases of student emotional problems being highlighted in news stories from all over the world, it may be worthwhile including on the time table documentation where a student can go for psychological help or mentoring. Having a child in a position where they need to ask makes them vulnerable and unlikely to ask for help. If they know where they can go during their school time for counseling, then this is worthwhile.
~After school projects.
This is the final thing to add to that element of getting to know the new class, and keeping them informed. Any handout of documentation should include activities available to their year. Out of school or after school hours activities encourages children to take up interests. This also helps them to work together.
That first day can be as difficult or as easy as the teacher makes it. By introducing all the elements written above, a teacher achieves a class who are informed and who know what to expect in the coming year. They also have information about resources available to them, and who to go to in times of need. All of these elements are those which add to student stress and comfort levels, and if these are addressed early, the rest of the term will be a lot more straightforward for the teacher and their class.