August 13, 2014

Back to School: Teachers, are you ready?

“I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom.  It’s my personal approach that creates the climate.  It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous.” 

– Haim Ginott
Students On Table

As summer winds down and the new school year approaches, the team here at Learners Edge would like to share some ideas to help you create joyous weather in your classrooms!

Here are five teaching tips to harness that energy and excitement that accompanies the first days back to school.

  1. From Nancy (former Middle School Teacher) – I liked to get students actively engaged in content in a fun way on day one.  While many of my peer middle school teachers spent the first day going over rules and procedures and handing out course materials, in my science classes, we used discrepant events and experiments (messy goggle-needing experiments).  This set the tone for the students and communicated without words that this class is going to be active and fun, it’s going to require teamwork and critical thinking, and I am going to share my passion for science every day!
  2. From Dawn (former High School English Teacher) – As students arrive on day one, it is important to make them feel special, no matter their age.  I had students write their names on an index card and asked them to include an interesting thing about themselves – a recent accomplishment, a new hobby, a favorite book or movie – that most people would not know.  I collected the cards and used them to help all of us learn each other’s names. “So, this is Erik and he biked over 100 miles this summer!”  Then later, “Who biked over 100 miles this summer?”  I used this technique throughout the first week to reinforce that each student was special, and the students learned something cool about each and every person, in addition to names.
  3. From Susanne (former Parent Educator) – As a parent myself, I appreciate any and all communication from teachers leading up to and during those first days of school.  I use the acronym LIVE to remember important tips for working with parents:

L= Lay the Groundwork

Reach out to parents BEFORE school starts.  Introduce yourself and share your expectations. 

I = Invite Them in

Remember that parents are partners in children’s education.  Tell them how they can best communicate with you and what they can expect from you.  Set the stage for your team approach to supporting their child.

V = Volunteers Rock

Teachers work so hard and often their resources are restricted.  Parent volunteers can be so helpful.  Encourage parents to visit the classroom and volunteer their time and energy to help you help students.

E = Eliminate Surprises
Proactive communication can help parents to feel empowered and engaged.  Communicate early and often.

  1. From John (former High School Teacher and College Professor) – Students enter the new classroom with some trepidation and questions about what is to come.  Because I value the power of relationship, I want them to know me and each other as soon as possible.  I work to “know” them (their names and something about them) before ever meeting them.  On the first day of school, I greet each student by name at my classroom door and try to tell them something I know about them or about something I wish for them in the coming year.  This sends the message, “I care to know you, and have high hopes for you in this class!”
  2. From Julie (former Elementary School Teacher and Administrator) – As a past administrator, I always enjoyed seeing the middle school classrooms come to life at the beginning of each school year.  Teachers would use events happening in our area or the world to engage the students from day one. One teacher aligned the majority of her first month mathematics lessons to the baseball season and upcoming World Series, another in geography to the summer Olympics;  both showed the real world connections to learning and motivated students in a fresh and fun way. Another favorite memory is of the 8th grade science teacher greeting her students on day one with a song about rocks while accompanying herself on her guitar–she had the kids hooked!  Whatever your passions, let them show through in your instruction and your interactions with your students.

Happy 2014-2015 Everyone – make it a great one!

CI Rounded

What’s the best tip you have for back to school?

Learners Edge is passionately committed to providing you with continuing education coursework, materials, and tools that will help you succeed in your classroom and in your career.

Offering more than 120 online courses for teachers, you can earn the graduate credit you need for salary advancement and meet your professional development needs. Contact us today to get started!


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