The first day of school sets the mood for the entire academic year. Everything from where coats are hung up, to which colored pens to use and how to behave in the new classroom will be defined on the first day (if not in the first few hours). But by far the most important impression of the beginning of the year is the relationship that is forged between teachers and students.
As a teacher, it is crucial that you make firm impressions to your students while managing to create a wonderful first-day experience.
But opening yourself up to a brand new class can be an unnerving experience, even for the most seasoned professional. Fortunately, there are many ways to build a good reputation, ranging from the subtleties of how you dress too loud and proud demonstrations of your personality.
— Kami (@usekamiapp) September 24, 2019
Self-introduction—where does it begin?
Your introduction starts even before you have stood in front of the classroom and opened your mouth. Your class’s first impression of you will have begun long before then. Were you in the room waiting for them as they filed in, did you help them find their seats, or did you arrive 10 minutes late, panting and frantically unpacking your bags?
How you present yourself in these first moments of the day will have a lasting impact on your pupils. Consider starting your commute a half-hour early to ensure that you are there before students begin to arrive. This way you can make sure everything is in order before the day starts, leaving you free to meet and greet your students as they enter. This establishes an immediate relationship of mutual respect. You are showing that you value your class’s learning time and they should mirror this consideration.
Another area which will have an immediate impression is how you dress. It is this nonverbal representation of yourself that students will pick up on first and immediately make assumptions about your behavior and expectations as a result. This by no means requires you to deck yourself out in the latest fashions or dress in a way that feels unnatural to you. You should always strive to find something comfortable that allows you to perform, the often quite physical task of moving around a classroom. Rather you should ensure that you look clean, presentable and professional. Make sure you have washed and ironed your garments and that they are all in good repair. Similarly, whatever the rush was to get to school, take care to look groomed and fresh. Again this helps to assert the image of someone who is competent and respects the learning environment – both important subliminal impressions to create on your class.
— Kami (@usekamiapp) September 23, 2019
Dealing with unpredictable events
It’s the first day back. Everybody is out of routine, you’ve lost the exact knack for getting the projector going quickly and your class is struggling to sit still for a full lesson. In this environment, it is forewritten that something unexpected will happen. So whether it’s the printer failing to work or a behavior incident you weren’t expecting, be prepared to assert control over the situation.
In the eyes of your class, this is the first test of your mettle and will define who they perceive as in charge. In all events stay calm and focused, regardless of the true levels of panic you may feel. It might not bring a huge impact to you, but the way in which you handle unforeseen contingencies properly will always leave a mark on your students. Moving through lessons and activities, with great ease, will not go unnoticed.
Introducing yourself in more ways than one
Let’s start with the basics: do not start the class without telling everyone your name and explaining the role you will play in their academic life. A great old school way to do this is to write your name on the whiteboard and explain a little bit about yourself and your background as a teacher.
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— Kami (@usekamiapp) August 19, 2019
To build more fulfilling relationships with your students consider some creative interactive activities to help everyone get to know each other better. You could try:
- Favorites: In this game get everyone to compile their favorite of something. For example, English teachers may want to focus on books, but anything can work from celebrities to films. The aim is to share some details about yourself in a fun environment and also learn something about your student’s tastes.
- Truth or lie: Write down some statements about yourself, half of which are true and half false. Show this list to your class and explain that only half the facts are true. Let your students try to work out which are the lies. When the truth has been revealed, reverse the game and have your students write two true statements about themselves and one lie.
- Numbers: This is a great way to get some maths going again. Compile some numbers about yourself e.g. age, birth date, size of family, etc. Then create some maths questions that need to be figured out in order to find your key number. So 5 x 6 to get to your age.
A great way to integrate these activities with preparations for the coming year is to use some of the EdTech tools you will be incorporating. For example, if you have a 1:1 device system at your school, get your class to write down their favorites list on an interactive doc or annotate your selection of truth or lies collaboratively using a PDF annotation app. This can help the activities to run smoothly whilst also getting everyone into the swing of the apps and features you will be using this school year.
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