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.
Hello, My Name Is...
Many things are happening as you prepare for the first day of school. Your classroom needs to be set up, materials arranged, lesson plans drawn up, the list becomes quite overwhelming to the new (and veteran) teacher. Still, the excitement is building and not just for teachers, parents have their hands full, too. "Back to School" sales beckon, causing children to ask, "Who will be my teacher? Will I like him/her? What will he/she be like?"
If possible, get a class list from your school's secretary and send a letter to the parents before school starts. Send a postcard to each student before school starts. "Oh, no! I'm teaching high school! Those kids don't need that!'' Please reconsider. Older students may actually appreciate "special handling" more than the younger ones. Older children have the same anxieties, they've just learned how to hide them effectively!
To get a "feel" for where your students are coming from, ask a friend to take a tour of students' neighborhoods with you. You may need a city map. Mark each students' location on the map and plan your route accordingly. Sadly, not all students live in "safe" areas. If you are unfamiliar with an area, check with your principal and colleagues to help you decide whether or not a tour is appropriate.
Every school has its own atmosphere, and this is very evident the first day of school. At Jefferson, teachers, armed with a complete roster of student/teacher assignments, AND a large sign with their own name, pick a spot on the back playground, and wait for their students to find them. There is a carnival like atmosphere, with students, parents, teachers and administrators meeting and greeting. At a given signal, students line up behind their teacher and file into the building. If this is your scenario, be sure to post another large sign on your door, before you go outside directing parents and students new to the building to the designated "pick up" spot.
If you meet students in the classroom, be sure to stand at the classroom door and greet each student and their parents with a friendly smile and a firm handshake. Check registration cards/student schedules at the door, and help students who are at the wrong room to find the one they need.
No matter how your school handles the first day, you should display crucial information next to your classroom door:
Students should also see the same information inside the classroom, perhaps written on the chalkboard. To avoid chaos, there should be an activity for students, such as a crossword puzzle, or a back to school color page at their desk, or handed to them at the door.
- Your name
- The room number (even if it's posted nearby)
- Grade level or subject(s)
- Section or period(s) each subject is taught (vital if you teach more than one)
- A sincere welcoming greeting
The tone for the entire school year will be set during the first crucial minutes of the school day. Make sure the image you project is one of confidence and competence. Children should sense you are in control and that your room will be a safe place for them to learn AND to make mistakes in.
Letter to the Parents:
Dear Parents, (use their names if they are available to you)
Your child, ________ , has been assigned to my class for the 1996-97 school year.
My name is Pam Tyrrell. I have been teaching for ten years, seven at Jefferson Montessori Campus. I have three children, Christopher is a college sophomore, Lisa a high school junior, and Jennifer, a high school sophomore. I have two cats and lots of tropical and goldfish.
On the first day of school, we will be meeting the children on the back playground. I will have a sign with my name printed clearly on it. I will be wearing a yellow rose on my lapel.
It would be very helpful if your child could bring two pencils and a package of 16 crayons the first day. Other school supplies which will need to be purchased by are:
1 package colored pencils
3 pocket folders
1 bottle of glue (4 oz.)
1 glue stick
1 pair scissors
1 package wide-ruled notebook paper
1 spiral notebook
1 stenographers notebook
2 boxes tissue
We will go over classroom rules and procedures the first day of school, and I will send home this important information with your child on the first day of school. You will need to sign one copy and return it to school the next day. You will have a copy to keep as well.
I am looking forward to spending this year with _______ (child's name). Please tell him/her that we will be starting the year with a unit on Ancient Egypt. We'll be building pyramids, and watch a film about King Tut.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call the school at ________.
Again, I am looking forward to a fine year with your child!
Jefferson Montessori Campus
Postcard to the Students:
I am really excited about this school year! We are going to study so many neat things, beginning with Ancient Egypt. Would you like to build a pyramid?
Meet me on the back playground, ___ date _______ I'll be wearing a yellow rose on my jacket! I'll be looking for you!