This article contains all those hints and tips that only the experienced teachers know – those things that make them seem to do the job effortlessly!
1 – Be prepared
For pretty much anything… I always have the following in my cupboard:
Baby wipes Pain killers Antacid Nail file Spare stockings / tights A small amount of change Hair clip / hair grip Teabags or instant coffee A mug Dried milk powered / creamer Tissues A notepad A USB memory stick
2 – Your mentor / buddy is your new best friend
This is the person the school has asked to look after you, they are there to give you the “low down” on things and to help you when you need it
3 – Know the school rules on sanctions / rewards
Every school has sanctions and rewards laid down – the students will know these! Make sure that you follow them to the letter.
4 – Know the layout of the school
You don’t want to be caught out by being asked to go to room “XYZ” and have no idea where it is, make sure you know where you are going before you go. It is also advisable to walk round the school a few times so you know roughly where each department is – students will expect you to know.
5 – Always use a seating plan
This allows you to group students as YOU want them; it also enables you to learn names and to move students around the room as a primary sanction.
6 – Wait…wait…wait for you instructions to be followed
If your instructions are not followed through immediately, repeat them at the same volume and wait… Repeat them again after a minute and continue to wait…. Wait time DOES work.
7 – Involve the parents
Parents want to know when their child is doing well or misbehaving, they want to be contacted – most parents are VERY supportive of the teacher contacting them… Try the phrase “I am concerned about X….” this usually works a lot better. Also if you try to make more praise contact than concern, students will appreciate this and their friends will begin to want the praise calls.
8 – Plan your lessons and make it interesting / fun
If you haven’t planned your lessons it is very obvious – they are disjointed and behavioural problems are much more likely. Plan to make the lessons fun and interesting the students want to be involved; behaviour problems are less likely to occur.
Students want to know what they are going to be doing, a learning objective tells them what to look for. A starter to involve them in the lesson is also a good plan.
If you are teaching something that is new to you, make sure you are AT LEAST one lesson ahead of the students… If they ask you something you don’t know a good response is “great question Jimmy, bonus points for anyone who provides the answer as extra credit homework”
9 – Know YOUR expectations and always be consistent
You need to decide what you will and won’t accept in a lesson – make this very clear to the students from the outset. Draw your line in the sand and stick to your guns, it is hard to start with but becomes easier. (Remember you can get nicer, but getting nastier is MUCH harder!)
Each student MUST be treated in the same way, this ensures that your room is fair; this does help gain respect from the students. Also you can’t have the “but x did it and…” used against you!
10 – Use lots of positive praise
Positive reinforcement is much better than negative. A number of students are simply looking for attention however they can get it… if you can spot them being good and praise this, that’s half the battle won!
Remember above all “Potty training is key!”
Get the students to understand your expectations, it may well be hard to begin with, but as long as you persevere it WILL get easier as the year goes on…. Eventually your reputation precedes you!