New Teacher 101: Surviving your first year in the classroom

Year one is exciting! However, enthusiasm can only get your so far. My advice? Be consistent. Whether you have a few weeks or a few days before school starts, it’s time to make some decisions that will allow you to establish a consistent classroom environment.

7 Questions to ask yourself when planning routines and procedures — and advice from a middle school science teacher…

1. How will students enter the classroom?

Always have students line up outside of class. This might sound elementary, but it allows for separation between hallway behavior and classroom behavior. As they enter greet each student and say their names! This might be the only “hello” they receive today.

2. How will I get students’ attention?

A bell, a countdown, or a clap is typical — try to change it up! Perhaps you can ask the students for ideas and have a competition for the best attention grabber. How about this… TD4Wbutton 🙂

3. How will I begin each day?

Students should be able to enter class and get started on whatever routine you have in place without any reminders. Always have the assignment up on the projector for students to see. I do a quick-write at the beginning of each class. Three minutes to write, one minute to share with their partner/group, then students are randomly called on to share with the class.

4. How will I be calling on students?

I love using ClassDojo’s randomize feature to call on students. This keeps the students who raise their hand too much at bay and the shy students participating. Teachers sometimes use popsicle sticks to call on students at random, but ClassDojo is much more engaging and interactive for the students.

5. How will I reward excellent behavior?

ClassDojo! Personalize positive behavior awards based on characteristics you want students to strive for. However, make sure you have an incentive program in place to keep students working for ClassDojo points. For example, the first 5 students to reach 20 points gets _.

6. What is my discipline policy?

Most schools will have a discipline policy in place that you must follow in terms of detention, etc. For my own classroom I give a warning using ClassDojo. If the behavior continues after the warning, communicate with the parent. Send them a ClassDojo message! Or give an old-school phone call. Parent-teacher relationships are key for student success.

7. How will I end class every day?

Exit tickets! Put a prompt up on the projector and give each student/pair/group a piece of paper. Students must turn in “exit tickets” on their way out the door.

“Moment of Zen” (cred. Jon Stewart) — I end each class with an inspirational quote. I turn off all of the lights and put the quote up on the projector. Students must be silent for 20 seconds before they can leave. Namaste. 🙂

Whatever routines and procedures you put in place, stay consistent. Your stress-level will thank you for it.

Good luck!

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