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For the New Teacher

About this Daily Classroom Special
For the New Teacher was written by Pam Tyrrell, a teacher at Jefferson Montessori Campus, Dayton, Ohio. Designed to aid entry level teachers, topics focus on issues and concerns commonly expressed by the neophyte teacher. For more new teacher oriented articles, make sure to check out New Teachers Online.

Setting the Tone

You begin teaching the minute a student steps across the threshold into your classroom. If a child enters in a way that is not appropriate, ask that student to return to the door and enter appropriately. (Do not send the student out of the room; it has very negative connotations to be sent away on the first day!)

Be sure the student understands why his/her entry was not appropriate, give clear guidelines for how the student should enter, look for understanding on the students part, affirm the understanding. Be sure to be calm, firm and friendly. Use "please" and "thank you," and if possible, use the child's name and look him/her in the eye. Remember, children are full of anxieties on the first day of school (some are full of apprehension every day of school) and the idea is to gain their cooperation, not to earn their resentment for embarrassing them. When you must reprimand a student, try to do it in a non-threatening, matter-of-fact fashion. Students like to push "buttons" and get emotional reactions. By using your own self-control, you maintain the upper hand, even if it may not feel that way at the time.

According to Harry Wong in The First Days of School; How to be an Effective Teacher, there are The Seven Things Students Want to Know on the First Day of School:

  1. Am I in the right room?
  2. Where am I supposed to sit?
  3. What are the rules in this classroom?
  4. What will I be doing this year?
  5. How will I be graded?
  6. Who is the teacher as a person?
  7. Will the teacher treat me as a human being? (What is your personal philosophy regarding students and education?)

Keeping this in mind, once the class is in place, introduce yourself, making sure to include some personal information, and go from there.

Students must have this information, and many parents are thrilled to receive this information as well. Consider putting the "Seven Things" on paper, perhaps in a newsletter format and send it home. You may want to send this out before the first day of school, or send two copies, one to be signed by parent, one to be kept at home for future reference, as part of the first homework assignment.

Lesson Planning: The First Week....

For the first week to ten days, depending on the children's ages and ability levels, your lesson plans should include time to review and if necessary, reteach critical classroom management issues. Younger students need daily reminders (and sometimes hourly reminders!) to raise their hands, get in line quietly, talk softly (when appropriate), etc. Rules should be gone over whenever a new student is introduced to the classroom, as well.

If you were unable to resist the urge to "get on with the academics" and now find yourself with students who are less than what you had expected behaviorwise, don't panic! Simply start over by declaring "A First Day of School Re-enactment!" On the appointed day, start fresh, with a new seating chart, blank bulletin boards (which you will "build" with student work), your name clearly written on the board, and yes, meeting each student with a twinkle in your eye, a firm handshake and "Hello, I'm ________, your teacher for this year, and you are? Well, I'm very pleased to meet you. You'll be sitting ________. There is an assignment on your desk. Please get started quietly," on your lips. Make sure the assignment is something every student can be successful with.

Throughout the day, ignore as much negative behavior as possible, but take time to address issues brought up by the behavior. "I've noticed several students wandering around looking for a trash can during lessons. I'd like to take a moment to show everyone where they are. I'd also like to ask that boys and girls stay in their seats and not to interrupt lessons. At the end of a lesson, you may raise your hand if there is something you need to take care of. Also, use please and thank-yous often during each day.


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