How to Start the New Year Successfully

For many teachers, the first day of the new school year has come and gone. The success of the first few weeks, and indeed, the year ahead can depend upon how well the teacher settles into the teaching groove. For this to occur careful preparations and organisation leading into the first day is imperative.

Discussion over the last couple of weeks with our new (and returning) staff at Al Yasat have revealed a number of key advice tips for teachers set up their new classroom. Although the first day may have passed for you, these tips are still pertinent for the weeks ahead!

  1. Preparation; Preparation; Preparation: Leading into the first day teachers have acknowledged the need to be prepared. The builder’s adage “Measure twice, cut once” is a key message. Understanding school policy, finding information about the school and even finding colleagues to speak to are useful steps. Our staff found the closed facebook page for new staff useful over the summer break a good way of finding out relevant information. Being well prepared is a confidence booster and will set you up for the year ahead.
  2. Be Early: Teaching is a complex entity and together with being prepared, teachers need time to organise their classrooms, and prepare for each day. Teachers need to be early to ensure they are ready to tackle the events and activities of the day’s learning schedule..
  3. Establish and then Monitor Class Rules & Routines: A successful classroom is a well disciplined. Important for students to know and understand why certain rules are put into place. Once defined, the need to enforce these expectations (eg; how to enter the classroom, move around the classroom; collect books; work in teams; pack up) will diminish over time as students learn to work within your classroom environment.
  4. Build Rapport with Students: After getting to know your students names, the next step is to “really” know your students. Knowing each student’s interests, favourite hobbies, food, sport, etc helps to nurture a positive connection between teacher and student. The social and emotional wellbeing is often overlooked as teachers focus on the academics. Letting the student know you care and want them to succeed is oftern as simple as taking time to ask how their day is going? What they did on the weekend?
  5. Know Your Curriculum: If the teacher does not know what they want the students to learn within the first few weeks of the school year, they are letting them down. All students deserve effective lessons, every lesson. Too often teachers are providing “busy work” in the initial days of a new school year, as they themselves, are trying to get a handle on curriculum planning. Units of work, assessment tasks and resources should be organised and completed in advance. An effective teacher quickly identifies students’ learning needs and plans accordingly.
  6. End of Day Procedures: Teachers cover a lot of (learning) ground during the school day. It is good practice to reflect on the day by reminding students of the work covered. Help them prepare to share their new learning with their parents when they get home. This is a time to share what will be happening in class tomorrow. Help them to look forward to coming back to your classroom. Help them to leave school happily.

We all know the most important person in raising student attainment is the classroom teacher. Following these few pointers will help ensure it is a year the student will remember fondly for many years to come.

Author: Dr Jake Madden

Jake Madden (Dip Teach; B.Ed; Grad Dip: Leadership; M. Ed: Leadership; EdD; FACEL; MACE) Dr. Jake Madden is currently the Principal, St Edward’s Primary School, Tamworth. He has enjoyed a successful teaching and principal leadership career over the last thirty years building teacher capacity through the development of learning in the contemporary world, the promotion of flexible learning spaces to meet the needs of the 21st century learner and curriculum for global mindedness. Jake is a leader in the notion of teacher-as-researcher and is widely published in this area, authoring and co-authoring books and a number of journal articles showcasing his experiences and research into leading educational change.

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