I used to feel quite anxious about starting to teach classes in the new school year. I learned to prepare for the new school year by taking certain steps. I’d like to share a post I wrote earlier about what I do to help me prepare for that first week of classes.
The first day of school is fast approaching, and I really need to start to think about getting ready for it. I’ve been teaching for a while so there have been many first days, and I’m pleased to say ( actually I’m quite relieved to say ) that I’ve found steps to take that make that first day and that first week a success. That first week is so important because it sets the tone for the rest of the semester.
I’m going to remind myself of what to do to have a successful first day and first week by reviewing the strategies I use for each step. I invite you to review each step with me, so just click on the link I’ve provided in each step.
Step 1- Reduce Stress
Just thinking about the first day of school itself can be stressful, but it needn’t be. Here’s why.
Step 2- Think positively
Think positively. If you have a positive attitude you’ll believe and act as if all students will be successful in your class. If you have a positive attitude there are no losers in your classroom despite what you’ve might have heard. Students will live up to your expectations. Think and act as if students are trouble, believe me they won’t disappoint you. Here’s why.
Step 3- Remember the nine lessons your students taught you about classroom management
Your students will tell you by their behaviour what they like and don’t like all you have to do is ask them. Here’s what my students told me.
Step 4- Create the class rules or agreements collaboratively
Create the classroom agreements together and students are more likely to buy into them. Here’s how I do that and the Slideshare Video I use to review our agreements.
Step 5- Remember respect in the classroom is a two way street
Step 6- Get your students to tell you how they feel about different aspects of school
Remember respect is a two way street going from the teacher to the student and from the student to the teacher. As much as I would like it to be, respect for teachers isn’t always automatic. It must be earned. Here’s what I do.
Step 6- Get students to tell me how they feel about different aspects of school
It’s good to get students to reflect about different aspects of school in and out of the classroom. The information that I get from these questionnaires help me better understand my students and informs my interactions with them. I ask these questions.
Step 7- Realize that a students emotional state will affect a student’s learning and behaviour
Realize that the emotional state of a student can thwart learning. Consider this.
Filed Under Behaviour Management, establishing a respectful classroom, maintaining a safe, motivating students, positive climate, Special Education, special needs students, underachieving students | Leave a Comment
Given that school is about to start up again, I thought it useful to repost this article about using 21st century students’ expectations to inform our teaching practices.
Usually during the summer break after I’ve been away from the craziness of the June classroom for a while, a good long while, I begin to reflect on my teaching practice for the previous year. Usually this reflection includes reflecting on expectations, mine and my students. I want to be sure my expectations are reasonable given the nature of the changing 21st century classroom and students. I’ve taught for 30 years so some things have really changed and some haven’t. Today, I’m reflecting on things my students have told me they expect from teachers that really have nothing to do with cell phones, ipads, tablets etc or the 21st century. Students have told me they would like teachers to
- not abuse their power and order students around as if they control their lives;
- respect students personal lives and not bug them about personal things that are none of their business;
- not yell at students because that just makes them mad and not want to listen;
- not talk about themselves all the time and show that they’re smarter than students are because students find it discouraging;
- not treat students like they don’t know anything;
- have respect for students no matter what they’ve have done before;
- listen to both sides of the story;
- be equally fair to all students;
- try to help all students have the best results in class;
- give less homework because it is hard to do homework by themselves if they cannot ask the teacher;
- give more free time in class to do homework;
- give less homework because it is boring and takes away from time with family and friends;
- let students eat in class because sometimes they are hungry in class and can’t stay awake in class;
- not give homework before the holidays;
- let students listen to music while working in class;
- let students watch videos in class and not have to write about them;
- to want students to pass their classes;
- to be helpful, respectful, and fun to be around.
Basically students want teachers to respect them, but then of course teachers want students to respect them, too. Respect is a two way street that is constantly under construction. My students’ expectations help inform my teaching practice and enables me to create an inviting classroom where my students and I can do our best.
You might want to ask your students to tell you what they expect from teachers. I found students are not shy about revealing their expectations. The expectations also make good starting points for discussions.
When I was a student, I loved being in the drama club and playing volleyball and basketball on the junior and senior teams at my high school. I wasn’t a star by any means, but I was a member of the drama club and a member of the team which was important at that time. Those extracurricular activities made my life almost bearable during my teen years. I wanted school to be more than just the 3 rs. I didn’t just want to be in a classroom living in my head during my school years. I longed to be part of something more than a class. eEtracurricular activities enabled me to satisfy my longing to part of something more than a class. When I became a teacher, I decided I would participate in extracurricular activities to enable students to benefit from extra curricular activities much the way I had benefited all those years ago. Imagine my surprise when I realized that as a teacher I was still benefiting from participating in extra curricular activities. I recognize students participate in extracurricular activities for many reasons, not just the reasons I had for participating . Extra curricular activities are important for students in many ways.
I’ll be honest here. Participating in extra curricular activities is important for me as a teacher because participating in extracurricular activities would often help make my classrooms more bearable . Over the years some of my classes have been very challenging- to say the least. Many of my academically at risk students were disengaged from school. They were only at school because the law said they had to be at school. I felt really great when I got to see students who were disengaged from the classroom become more and more engaged in the classroom because they were began participating in extracurricular activities such as basketball, football or yes even the knitting club. I’ll admit I got to see my academically at risk students in a different more positive light during extracurricular activities and my students got to see me in a different light too that resulted in a more positive student/teacher relationship. That is a very good thing.
When I think of school and the student body, I think of classrooms as the head of the student body and extracurricular activities as the heart of the student body.We need to balance the head and the heart of the student body. Life is not only lived in the head, but it is also lived in the heart. Students’ school experience and yes even teachers’ school experience needs to include developing and satisfying the needs of their heads and hearts, and when teachers are told not to participate in extracurricular activities for political reasons, students and teachers suffer.
Schools are often hyperkinetic environments. Teachers are busy in the classroom, supervising hallways and lunchrooms, and busy supporting students’ extra curricular activities. When extra curricular activities coincide with exam and report card times, teachers’ lives can be crazy. It seems to me during those extra frenetic times when I was super busy in and out of the classroom, I got to the point where I feel a constant low level of panic and guilt. While at work I felt as if I wasn’t spending enough time with family; while at home I felt I wasn’t spending enough time with work. I’m certain I’m not the only teacher to feel this way. I could hardly wait for the extra crazy times at school to be over. I’d swear the extra crazy times at school affected my brain so I couldn’t function normally. Well, it appears I was correct thinking my brain wasn’t functioning well during those hyperkinetic times during the school year.
Edward M. Hallowell, a psychiatrist, says there’s a newly recognized neurological phenomenon called Attention Deficit Trait that explains the brain’s response to the craziness of a hyerkinetic workplace. When people are trying to deal with more input than they possibly can, they have difficulty setting proprieties, staying organized, and managing time and feel low levels of panic guilt. Gee, I thought I was just overwhelmed and couldn’t cope.
Hallowell suggests we can help control ADTs by getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and getting adequate exercise. He maintains we need to have a “human moment”- a face-to-face exchange with someone you like every few hours. I don’t know about you, but I’ve found it’s not always possible to find the time for that “human moment” at work. I guess I should make the time. Taking the time for a pleasant face-to-face exchange with someone at work when the environment gets more and more crazed would fall into the category of working smarter, not harder. Of course doing things such as breaking large tasks down into smaller, more manageable tasks and keeping your desk organized and free from clutter (my greatest challenge) will help control ADT.
I’ve found after I’ve been in hyperkinetic environment for a while, I begin to long for silence and solitude and head. My favourite place to find silence and solitude is along the banks of the Credit River. A walk along the Credit River is so restorative and helps put things into perspective. What do you do when you want to stop the world and get off for an hour or so?