Going back to school is exciting for most kids, despite their complaints to the contrary. They enjoy seeing their friends, getting a new start, and updating each other on all the summer gossip. For teachers who have done it repeatedly, the polish of starting another year sometimes can lose its lustre. Many who have had to work or attend classes during the vacation can find themselves not quite ready emotionally nor organizationally. Here are some tips for teachers as they head back for another year of educating our youth.
1. INVITE INFORMATION-
Whether on note cards, rosters, or some other creative means, get kids to share information. Email addresses, phone numbers, hobbies, goals, parent situation, ( single parent/guardian etc) allergies, even favorite cartoons all can tell you a lot about the population with whom you are about to share a year of your career. Thumb through them as they are turned in, looking for interesting facts you might be able to share with the class without embarrassing anyone. This information can come in handy later in the year. For instance, if a student has been sick, having their email might allow you to send a get well wish along with some assignments so that they don’t have so much to make up when they return.
2. CREATE A CLIMATE-
Each class has its own personality. Depending on time of day, mix of students, and subject matter, each group develops their own special bond, humor, and teacher/student relationship. Use the first day to begin to build some of those components. An ice breaker activity that gets kids laughing, talking, and moving are most effective. One example is to have every kids write down three things about themselves that NO one else would know. Then have classmates try to predict which facts go with what people. Incorrect assumptions can be almost as fun as getting some correct. Kids will remember those facts the entire year and some high school legends have been built on such facts!
3. TEACH TONE-
From the moment students walk in, they should sense that you are a professional. With the fun activities mentioned above, it is important that kids see that you know the difference between having fun and being silly. One message that is always beneficial to send is that sometimes fun can mean working hard at something and reaping the benefits. By balancing fun activities with professionalism, kids get the message that hard work will be rewarded, and hard workers can also enjoy the process.
4. OBVIOUS ORGANIZATION-
Anything related to classroom policies, procedures or preferences should be POSTED visibly. If you only have those types of things written down in a syllabus, many of the kids who struggle with organization to begin with, will lose it. Having a daily visual reminder will help those who struggle with keeping it all together. It is also great evidence when a parent tries to claim that their child didn’t know a particular rule or procedure.
5. GIVE A GIFT-
Something as small as a pencil with the school logo or funny little trinkets acquired over the summer can send the message that you intend to have a personal influence on each and every student. Team up with another teacher to share the work of preparing something, but keep it simple. Even a laminated poem or favorite quotation can add a personal touch that sends the message that the teacher is glad that each and every student is a part of their classroom.
When October rolls around, kids and teachers have resigned themselves to the fact that school is indeed officially a routine. Getting kids into that routine with a positive outlook begins the very first day of school. If one isn’t careful, it just might lift the spirits of the teacher as well.