The Complete Teacher


12 New-Teacher strategies

Posted by Hlengiwe Zwane on 22 July 2021 12:25 PM SAST
Hlengiwe Zwane photo
Article by Melissa Kelly
New teachers typically anticipate their first day of school with a mixture of anxiety and excitement. They may have gained experience teaching in a controlled environment under a supervising teacher in a student teaching position. The responsibility of a classroom teacher, however, is different. Check off these 12 first-day strategies, whether you're a new teacher or a veteran teacher, to set yourself up for classroom success from day one.
1 - Familiarise yourself with the school.
Learn the layout of the school. Be aware of entrances and exits. Look for the student toilets closest to your classroom. Locate the media center and the student canteen. Knowing these locations means you can help if new students have questions for you. Locate the staff room so that you can make copies, prepare materials, and meet your fellow teachers.
2 - Know the school policies for teachers.
Individual schools and school districts have policies and procedures for teachers that you need to learn. Read through official handbooks, paying close attention to things such as attendance policies and discipline plans. Make sure you know how to request a day off in case of illness. You should be prepared to get sick a lot during your first year; most new teachers are also new to all the germs and use up their sick days. Ask your coworkers and assigned mentor to clarify any unclear procedures. 
3 - Know the school policies for students.
All schools have policies and procedures for students that you need to learn. Read through the student handbook, paying close attention to what students are told about discipline, dress code, attendance, grades, and in-class behavior.
4 - Meet your co-workers.
Meet and begin to make friends with your coworkers, especially those who teach in the classrooms near yours. You will turn to them first with questions and concerns. It is also essential that you meet and begin to build relationships with key people around the school such as the school secretary, library specialist, janitor staff, and individuals in charge of teacher absences.
5 - Organise your classroom.
You usually get a week or less before the first day of school to set up your classroom. Make sure to arrange classroom desks the way you want them for the school year. Take some time to add decorations or hang posters about topics you will be covering during the year.
6 - Prepare materials for the first day.
One of the first things you should learn is the procedure for making photocopies. Some schools require you to turn in requests in advance so the office staff can make the copies for you. Other schools allow you to make them yourself. In either case, you need to plan ahead to prepare copies for the first day. Do not put this off until the last minute because you run the risk of running out of time. Know where supplies are kept. Check out the materials you will need in advance. 
7 - Create detailed lesson plans for the first week
Make detailed lesson plans, including directions for yourself on what to do throughout each class period for at least the first week of school or even the first month. Read them and know them. Do not try to "wing it" that first week. Have a backup plan in the event materials are not available. Have a backup plan in the event technology fails. Have a backup plan in the event extra students show up in the classroom.
8 - Practice technology.
Be sure to practice with the technology before the start of school. Check login procedures and passwords for communication software such as email. Know what platforms your school uses daily. Find out which software licenses are available to you so that you can begin to set up your digital use on these programs.
9 - Arrive early.
Arrive at school early on the first day to get settled in your classroom. Make sure you have your materials organised and ready to go, so you do not have to look for anything after the bell rings.
10 - Greet each student and begin to learn their names
Stand at the door, smile, and warmly greet students as they enter your classroom for the first time. Try to memorise the names of a few students. Have students create name tags for their desks. When you begin teaching, use the names you learned to call on a few students.  Remember, you are setting the tone for the year. Smiling does not mean that you are a weak teacher but that you are pleased to meet them.
11 - Review rules and procedures with your students
Make sure you have posted the classroom rules according to the student handbook and the school's discipline plan for all students to see. Go over each rule and the steps you will take if these rules are broken. Do not assume that students will read these on their own. Continually reinforce the rules from day one as part of effective classroom management.
Some teachers ask students to contribute to the creation of classroom rules. These must complement, not replace, the standards already established by the school. Having students add regulations provides an opportunity to offer more buy-in in the operation of the class.
12 - Make sure you teach something on that first day of school.
Do not spend the entire period on housekeeping tasks. Take attendance, go through the classroom syllabus and rules, and jump right in. Let your students know that your classroom is going to be a place of learning from day one.

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