YOUR NEWEST BEST FRIENDS ARE THE SECRETARY AND CUSTODIAN These two staff members are extremely important and can be of immense assistance as you begin your teaching career and each school year. Each has detailed knowledge of the school, its culture, operating procedures and where things can be found.
WRITING SAMPLE Have students complete a writing sample on the first day of school. Ask your students to write what they would like you to know about them. You can model this by telling your students what you would like them to know about you. This not only gives you some information not found in formal school records (i.e., pets, favorite vacations spots, etc.), but it also serves an indication of their present writing skills. Save this and share it, along with other indications of growth, at the end of the year. when you meet with each student and individually review what then have accomplished during the school year.
BE SPECIFIC WHEN PRAISING STUDENTS When praising one or more students for an action, be specific about the action. Saying, “John, I really liked the way you are helping Meredith pick up the papers she dropped,” or “I like the way Monica and Zach are staying focused on their assignment,” is much better than simply saying “Good job.” By being specific, you are very clearly and purposefully identifying the students acting appropriately and the action you wish others in the class to emulate.
END OF EACH SCHOOL DAY At the end of each day have students summarize what has taken place during the day, what is expected to be returned at the beginning of school tomorrow, and provide a brief overview of what will be accomplished the next school day. Both my wife and I are educators and at dinner we would always ask our three children what they did and learned at school that day. Initially they would answer “Nothing,” but we knew better and would ask leading questions. Preparing students to discuss their day with parents, and preparing them for the upcoming day, is a valuable communication system for it allows students to keep their parents informed of what is taking place in your classroom.
THE DAILY SCHEDULE Let your students know what is going to happen every day. A great way to do this is to post a daily schedule. When children enter the classroom each morning, they love to run straight to the daily schedule to see what they can expect. Choose a spot in the classroom where the daily schedule is posted and use pictures or words to announce the day’s events. The children will feel like they are partners in the day and it might also be an invaluable reminder for you too. As a bonus, you’ll be amazed at how quickly they all learn to read the word “LUNCH.”
EVERYONE LIKES A LITTLE WARNING It seems like a little thing but it can have huge results. Always give your students a few minutes of warning before you end an activity. If it’s something that they are enjoying, it will be hard for them to stop. A quick announcement like “We will be cleaning up in three more minutes” gives them a chance to bring the fun to a conclusion or to put the last few touches on a work of art. If it’s a challenging activity, many students will want a chance to finish what they have worked so hard on. Some teachers set a timer for the last five minutes at the end of each activity so that everyone gets used to the amount of time they have to finish up.