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Foolproof strategies for new teachers

Posted by Hlengiwe Zwane on 21 January 2022, 12:15 SAST
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When stepping into a classroom for the first time as a teacher, you should be ready for everything that you might not have been taught in college. Here are a few strategies for you as a new teacher that you can use for a strong start in front of your class.

#1: Prepare

As a first-year teacher and those new to a school district, you may be required to go through an induction process, which can make you feel supported and help you to provide an excellent education. Be it that this does or does not occur, there are various ways that you can prepare for your new school environment.

  • Understanding the families the school serves as well as its community is crucial, as this may affect the way in which you teach. You should learn about and prepare for the common challenges faced by students in the school. Having conversations with administrators and doing some independent research can provide insight into what will and won’t work with students.

  • Check classrooms facilities to see if they are ready. You should visit the classroom that you’ll be teaching in before school starts and run down a list of the things that you are concerned, worried about. Look at things like are there enough tables and chairs for an expected number of students as well as a teacher’s desk? Do the classroom appliances work? Is there chalk, or are there new markers and erasers for the board? You need to make sure that your classroom is fully functional well in advance before school starts.

  • Learn what the safety procedures are. You should know all the safety and emergency procedures in your new school, from fire drills to lockdowns. You should review these procedures carefully and ask questions to make sure that you understand.

#2: Organise

As a new teacher, you may be surprised by the demands of your time once you enter the world of day-to-day teaching. Getting organised in the following areas will help you handle your first year: 

  • Formunlating lesson plans. Having written lesson plans ensure you are ready to go for the first quarter of the year. Each lesson plan should follow a clearly outlined path from beginning to end and include a dynamic objective, effective delivery method, learning activity, and evaluation of progress.

  • Behavioural expectations and discipline policies. Using positive behaviour support to teach students how to succeed in your classroom will help. Set clear expectations for students on behaving respectfully towards teachers and each other. It also focuses on the underlying causes of disruptive behaviour and provides methods to intervene and prevent it. Havi ground rules and consequences in place will help students feel comfortable in your classroom.

  • Classroom management tactics. On the first day of school have guidelines in place for everyday classroom procedures such as answering questions in class, turning in and passing out papers and visiting the restroom. Teachers who know what to do ahead of time in common classroom situations have one less thing to worry about on the first day of school.

  • Have an assessment strategy ready to go with regards to how students will earn badges, points for good behaviour. Have procedures in place for other things such as grading and assessing group work. 

#3: Engage

Once you are prepared and organised, you’re ready to focus on the most important part of the job: students. It can be intimidating when you have to put into practice the thing that you have learned in college. The following will help you better navigate through your first year: 

  • Set expectations for yourself as well as your students. On the first day of school, introduce a shortlist of classroom rules (three to five) to students in an interactive way. Try using visual aids, modelling and take questions from the class and allow them to engage, participate with setting the rules. Having students create something tangible be it either through group work or allowing your students to be independent on the first day is also very useful. When students leave their first class having accomplished a task or a problem-solving exercise, a small art project, helps them to look forward to the next session. Be sure to encourage your students as they complete these tasks as this will help create positive energy and keep them feeling like they are can do things on their own or in a group that supports them. 

  • Build a sense of community in the classroom through group work as mentioned in the previous point. Simply standing by the door smiling as you greet your students informally as they enter can help a teacher set a positive classroom environment. Make an effort to learn students’ names as soon as possible as this makes them feel like a valued member of the class. 

  • Get parents involved in everything that you do with your students. Share the expectations you’ve set for your students as well as their parents, and find a way to report back on the areas that need improvement. A parent who hears that their child is a good at listening or sharing has a reason to feel proud.

  • Ask for help, assistance when you need it. Seek advice from other teachers and school administrators whenever you need it and also help those that need help.

Remember that the first day of school is new for everyone. Remain flexible and try to have fun adjust to and enjoy the day-to-day lives as educators.

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