SIX Handy Hints for new teachers from a veteran teacher.

Welcome to the wonderful world of teaching. When you signed up to become a teacher, we already had a profile of you. We know you are a passionate relationship builder and you want to teach children so that you can help to "heal the world, make it a better place for me and for you and the entire human race", right? Are we spot on or not?

Teaching is exhilarating but it can also be downright challenging and scary. There is so much on the internet to help you but I want to share SIX empowering tips with you. These strategies helped me to enjoy teaching my amazing, often rebellious and sometimes lazy students for 25 years.

1. Set simple, clear classroom rules and apply them from day one.

This first rule is probably the most critical rule you need. If you fail to lay down how you want your classroom to be organised, you are going to have endless discipline problems in your class.

Establish your classroom rules and implement these from day one. You want a happy, disciplined classroom where everybody is respected. Rules about greeting, how to enter or leave the classroom, how to ask questions and movement rules are the essential ones. Share these rules with your students and rehearse them till they are second nature. Keep practising until all the students are familiar with the rules.

When students know what behaviour is expected in your class, you have already won. Classroom routines should be automatic. Remember to be consistent. Don't You break the rules when you become familiar with your class. You will pay dearly for letting your guard down. You will lose control of your class, lose teaching time and the learners' respect will diminish. Children thrive where there is good discipline. Don't drop the ball - ever.

2. Be prepared and organized at all times.

Plan your lessons well. Know exactly how long the lessons will be and how your various groups of learners will be engaged. Don't assume because you wrote out your lessons, that you have completed your planning. This part of planning indicates the content that you want to cover. You also need to work out what is going to happen when you deliver the content to the children.

 Thorough Planning means you know the flow of your lessons because you have already visualized them. The "how" is often neglected by teachers and then they wonder why the learners are getting stuck or unruly.

3. Be firm, but warm and flexible.

You can show your warmth without losing control. You don't have to act like a security guard. Just remember that you are not the children's friend. You are the adult in the room and your job is to set the pace in the classroom so that you can maximise your teaching. Praise students when necessary and allow them to see that you care about them.

4. Have emergency stationery supplies available.

Children forget things like pens, pencils and rulers at home. Don't use this as an excuse not to teach. Rather have a few items available on loan for the day. It is all about how you manage this situation so that the students don't take advantage. Spending time scolding learners wastes teaching time.

 I used to have extra pens, a ruler or two, toilet paper and a mirror in my class. Students knew that they could have access to the stationery because of their exceptional circumstances. The toilet paper became tissues and the mirror was there to check their hair, eyebrows, ties, whatever! This worked for us.

5. Appoint classroom monitors

Classroom monitors are a great help with managing administrative tasks and keeping the flow in the classroom. Give children leadership roles so that they can grow and you can be freed to teach more. I thrived with my large team of monitors who each had a specialist role from handing out worksheets to being the IT monitor.

I designed specific job descriptions, mediated these with the students and then they could volunteer for a position. It is important not to undermine your monitors and dilute their specific powers.  Children know when their leadership  roles are mere tokenism. When this shared leadership between teacher and student leaders is not mutually beneficial, you have set yourself and the children up for failure.

6. Repeat Rules 1 and 2.

Enjoy the ride as a mover and shaker. And in typical nag style (I can hear my students of yesteryear moaning), if all else fails, DO NOT forget to apply rules 1 and 2. Your classroom is your palace and your eager learners are our rulers of tomorrow.

Have a supercharged journey!


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