How a teacher should prepare for his first day of school
Welcome dear teachers to the new school year. For some, starting the calendar, for others continuing the second stage of the cycle. In this vacation I was reading a lot about tips and recommendations for teachers, one of them is what inspired this post. I am very interested in learning about how I should prepare to make my first day of class a success. For this I share my notes on one of the readings that I made, it is an article entitled “The first day of classes”
The first day of class, some teachers face nervousness and anxiety making a diagnosis of the new course. This includes getting to know your students from the beginning with actions as a personal presentation. The teacher is convinced that in this period, the students put into the test and evaluate how far it can go, for that reason, he believes it is fundamental to do the same exercise with them: analyze how far they can go and understand what their capabilities are. “Students always watch teachers a lot”, and based on this, the importance of being able to make things clear from the beginning is the key to the school year flowing smoothly.
Before starting a new school year,
A teacher should organize the year, think about new projects, look for useful materials for his students and organizes his workshop. These are part of the actions a teacher should perform to restructure each year thinking about the needs of his students. The objective from the beginning, is to ensure that all of the students feel motivated and, above all, that they are very clear about what they are going to face throughout the year in academic and disciplinary terms.
“Identify the objectives”
At this moment it has to be pointed out that the first class usually has multiple objectives. According to the text, the goals of us as teachers for that first day “should fit not only with you (as a teacher) and with what you value as a school member, but also should be adjusted to the level and size of the class. If it is an introductory class for freshmen, it should be explicit and emphasize the obvious, more than it would in an advanced class at the end of the class. For example, not all students can understand what a syllabus or course program is and they can benefit from an explanation about how it works in the sense of an informal “contract”.
Regardless of the specific objectives for your first class, consider the following suggestions.
- Get to know your students
- Act calmly.
- Be respectful with your students!
- Tell them about your teaching career, your academic interests, why this course is important to you and why you like it.
- See the first day of school as the opportunity to start a relationship with your students.
- Depending on the size of the class, using the list of students, call each one by name, and let them know by asking them to raise their hands who are more advanced, who are just beginning, and so on.
- You will have an opportunity to gather information about them that will help you build this relationship.
- You just have to design an activity where they can write and talk a little about them depending on the grade.
Communicate the nature of the course.
- This gives you the opportunity to explain why students should take their course and how they can benefit from it.
Emphasize the important aspects of the course
- If something is important, cover the details openly. Be sure to emphasize elements that may be idiosyncratic or that differ in some way from “general” courses. Use what you know about psychology
Present critical information at the beginning or end of the class.
- Assume that students will not retain all the details presented during the first class, and repeat the crucial information later. This is especially important for freshmen.
“Prepare for the first day”
- This moment invites you to think that, as literally expressed in the article, there are many elements that you can not control during the first day of class, but prepare yourself as best you can.
- Visit the class if you have never taught there before to learn how to use the lights, the sound system, the computer equipment, etc. Will you need chalk or a special marker?
- Decide how to organize chairs and light, if there will be music or silence before you begin.
- Write and update the documents and the program of the course, and have enough printed copies. Bring these materials to the following classes for students who could not attend on the first day. Be sure to also bring copies of all texts and materials required.
- Check with the library to make sure that the required texts have arrived and that there is a sufficient number of copies.
“The first day”
Once again, implementing all of the following suggestions will take more time than you have in most new school year. Consider what you are doing now, and make changes based on the ideas that you find most useful.
- Arrive early and view professionally.
- Start slowly and cover the basic topics.
- Introduce yourself.
- Texts and other materials
- Description and requirements of the course
Distribute and review your course program. Briefly! We know at least one teacher who does an exam on his course program the second week. He wants the students to read it! Expose and emphasize the following requirements:
- what you expect a student to do?
- Important dates of the course program (for example, homework, exam rehearsals, exams, special guests).
- Compulsory readings that will not be addressed in the classes
- The workload of the student (how much time and preparation the course requires).
- Reading tasks (where are the instructions, how many are, and other aspects).
- Study aids (practice questions for the exam or summaries).
- How changes will be communicated for the dates of the exams and other mandatory tasks of the class.
- If films or videos are used, will there be an examination of their content? Repeat this information when the resource is to be filed.
- Number and type of written tasks, and expected content. Facilitate a model work, or place a copy in reserve or on the Internet. Provide detailed information about the elements that contribute to the qualification of the work (for example, at the intellectual level, quality of the writing, level of material referenced read) for a later class. If you use a qualification rubric for assignments, distribute it when you present them in depth.
- Participation in class (for example, within the class, in an electronic forum), oral presentations, or teamwork.
Students are often extremely quiet during the first day of school. This resistance may be because they do not know the teacher yet. Some students want the class to be finished as soon as possible and asking makes the class longer. To increase participation, try asking questions that students can answer. If no questions arise, give them important information about the questions whose answers you know will be important to the students: how difficult is the course (am I able to do the work?)? Is it the right course? Will you help the students?
I hope that with these steps you have an exemplified idea of how you should face a class or a course for the first time or after a period of time without seeing them.