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Prior to the Start of the School Year

Author: Steve Hiles

This article is primarily geared for the new teacher facing their first time "flying solo."  The quality of your preparation for the term ahead can make a real difference, not just on the first day of school but all through the coming months.

The most obvious thing you will want to do is to prepare your classroom.  It is not always possible due to issues like last minute cleaning by the schools's janitors, renovations or refurbishments, or building policies.  However, if possible, it can be of great benefit to have spent time in the room before school starts.  It will give you time to really "make it yours."

I suggest that you gain access to your classroom at least 3 to 4 days prior to your having to officially report for work.

The point here is to give yourself sufficient time to organize, arrange and even decorate your classroom, without feeling pressured.  Also, you will want to organize procedures for such things as issuing textbooks and the necessary forms that will need to go home with students on the first day.

Take a seat in your "teacher chair."  Look around you.  What do you see?  The first impression when you sit down for the first time at your desk can provide some important insights.  How do you feel about the room?  Does it feel comfortable, welcoming, and even friendly?  Or is it sterile or forbidding somehow?

Do you have enough light?  Is there a window and does it open?  What do you see outside the room?  How far from the door are you?  Will your students go past you as they enter and exit?  Is there enough space?  Can you shift your desk or reconfigure the students' seating ways that will improve the atmosphere in the room?

Your classroom becomes your "home away from home."  You can put your unique stamp on it.  It will subtly reflect your personality and preferences whether you are conscious of your influence on the room or not.  After all, you are going to spend almost as many hours here as at your home!

All the best,
Steve

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Classroom Expectations

Author: Steve Hiles

What are your expectations of the first day of school? What are your assumptions about the people, place, things, ideas, and experiences? Our expectations and assumptions can make big differences in how well things go--both on the first day and throughout the school year. Your attitude counts!

If you enter the classroom with the mindset of someone who "assumes the worst," you may expect that the students will be noisy and difficult to control - and so they probably will be exactly that. On the other hand, if you are expecting quiet, well-behaved students who raise their hands to ask questions and remain quiet whenever you want to speak, you may be bitterly disillusioned. No classroom in the world is entirely filled with "good" or "bad" behaved students.

When your students walk into the classroom, how will you greet them? What will be their first impression of you? Will they think you are friendly or formidable? The first impression can shape the whole school year. Striking balance between creating a positive relationship with students while retaining a level of authority and control can be key to a teacher's success.

The first impression on the very first day is CRITICAL.

Consider how adults socialize when they make new acquaintances. Don't we take time to ask each other our names, where we live and where we come from? Don't we want to share information about our jobs, hobbies, interests and our families? Maybe we have mutual acquaintances or have been to the same places. We may even have met before. Those initial conversations establish our connections and we take in a lot of information about each other.

Non-verbal impressions communicate even more strongly than do words. Some social scientists estimate that perhaps 93% of our communications are non-verbal. We observe each other and gather thousands of subconscious impressions. Eye contact, body language, tone of voice, facial expressions, quality of energy in gestures -- these are just some of the ways we communicate who we are and what we gather as our impressions of other people.

It is the small but crucial choices you make about your appearance that will communicate most about you in the early days.

All the best,
Steve