Going back to school after the long summer break is just as nerve-wracking, exciting and hectic for the teaching staff as it is for the students.
Getting back into the habit of speed eating, bladder control, shoelace tying and problem solving is just the beginning!
For first year teachers who have no real idea of what it takes to actually teach, they will come to realise quickly that not all ideas are going to work and may be great in theory. Even a veteran teacher who has a pretty good idea of what they need to do will still make a few tweaks and adjustments to their overall approach in the first few weeks.
Listed below are a few ‘back to school’ tips that you may find useful.
REFLECT ON THE PAST
Experience is the ultimate learning tool – a new graduate is very likely to learn more in their first few weeks of teaching than they did whilst still studying, and for teachers with more than one years experience, reflecting on the past can be invaluable.
Great teachers are constantly looking for new ideas and methods and you should never be afraid to try something new. You will very quickly learn whether it works or not. Allow these experiences to shape your teaching methods.
IT'S A NEW YEAR
Never come into a school year or classroom with pre-conceived ideas – start with a clear outlook. Each student that walks into your classroom should have a fresh start and you should too. In fact, start every day with a clean slate!
Your students should have a very clear idea of goals to be reached, and you should also set goals for yourself to improve in areas of weakness. Set the goals together with your students to ensure that you all work harder to obtain them. It is essential that you set high goals and expectations for all your students to start with – they can always be tweaked to suit individuals who may have different needs later on.
As you all know teaching goes far beyond the hours of normal school day. It takes many hours of preparation to be effective in the classroom, and a smooth year begins with preparation, preparation and more preparation!
SET THE TONE
Make sure that you establish a solid relationship with your students as soon as possible, but at the same time show them that you are the one ‘in charge!’ It is important in the first few days to set out your expectations, procedures and goals. Make things clear from the start – it may seem like you are being a disciplinarian but you can ease off as you move throughout the year.
It’s always a good idea to make the effort to contact parents in the early stages to let them know that their child’s best interests and education are paramount to you. Establishing trustworthy relationships with parents early on can only be a good thing for any future issues. Parents can be your biggest ally or your biggest enemy!
It’s not easy but planning ahead does become easier if you keep on top of it. Keep lesson plans from the previous year so that they can be used/modified for the upcoming year. Classroom events can be planned months in advance and copies of lesson plans/worksheets can be made in advance too. If you are clear about your lesson plans, it also make continuity easier for any relief teachers that may need to replace/support you in times of emergency.