Calling all Teachers: How to Get Off to a Great Start this Year

Whether you are a new teacher or a returning teacher, this article will help you have your best year ever. Why? Because communicating early with parents is key.

Getting Started:
  • Have a plan to connect with parents EARLY. You can do this with a blog, a website, an email or a newsletter.  It's always helpful to include a picture of yourself and a little bit about you, not too much, just a little.
  • In your early communication, include the school hours and a warm welcome.
  • Let parents know what the students will be learning about the first month.
  • Let them know what the best method to contact you is.
  • KEY - outline your expectations for your students while they are at school and in your classroom.
  • Provide a list of any helpful supplies that their children will need.
  • Give an outline of your homework expectations.
  • Give a list or calendar of important dates. 
Behaviour Concracts in PDF
I had many thank you's from parents who commended me on my early approach to communicate with them. It eased the first day jitters and left a positive feeling with my parents. It gives you and builds a great reputation and is well worth the effort.

Remember, like it or not, parents always talk about teachers. Having a great reputation goes a long way to adding success to your year. 

Ready to move on to classroom management? Here is a checklist to make sure you're ready to go. You also might want to have a few of these behavior contracts for those 'just in case' times.

Enjoy your holidays and if you're already back to school, be sure to let me know what you'd like to see to help you reach your educational goals.

Dar
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Calling all Substitute and Supply Teachers

My hat is off to you! On any given day in North America, between 5 and 6% of teachers are absent which is a much higher percentage than any other profession. Substitute teachers walk into a variety of situations including students who are upset that their teacher isn't there, under planned days and lessons that aren't the easiest to follow. Unfortunately, substitute teachers are often at a great disadvantage.

This week's post is dedicated to all the substitute/supply teachers. Here are some tips that will hopefully make your life much easier.


  • To be sure you get called back, leave great notes for the teacher and make sure any marking is done.
  •  Always leave the classroom in a respectable state.
  • Be courteous and friendly with staff members and office staff.
  • Always come prepared with a 'bag of tricks' in the event the class you walk into has scant plans for the day. (Try some of these Bellwork Activities).
  • As the students come in, look at each one in the face and welcome them.
  • Ask their names, tell them your name.
  • Remind them that their teacher will be proud of them if you provide a good report, let them know you're going to follow the teacher's code of conduct and may need their help.
  • Do your best to learn their names quickly and call upon them for help as needed.
  • Catch them doing great things and acknowledge them.
  • If you're not sure about the teacher's rules/discipline. Use a 3 point system, name on the board and 2 check marks will mean the regular teacher will find out.
  • Have a variety of back up things to do. ( Charades, scavenger hunts, collaborative math games, brainstorms.....how many things are white? how many things can you count 100 of, how many root vegetables can you name? how many names begin with a P, R, S? How many countries, cities or places can you name beginning at A in the alphabet.
Remember that your success will lead to a position or more work which is typically the goal. Visit worksheetplace for handy worksheets for your bag of tricks.
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Don't Let Your Classroom Rules Fall Apart

Let's face it, teaching needs order and respect for it to be effective. This means that as teachers, you need to not only nurture each child but you need to be very crafty at setting your boundaries in order to create that respectful environment.

As often as possible you will want to recognize and reward appropriate behaviors. Punishments and negative consequences don't teach a child how to behave appropriately and often end up with a child that resents you or becomes angry. Writing out lines or giving any consequence that is repetitive in nature only serves to fuel negativity from the student. You'll find that behavior contracts, one to one talks and some removal of some privileges will be more productive.

Don't be general in your requests "Be cooperative" Be Respectful" Instead, use specific requests like "Don't shout out the answers" "Thanks for putting up your hand".   Your rules should be co-created with the students and they should not be ambiguous. The students need to clearly understand what the rules are. Keep your rules to a minimum or they will be too hard to remember. If the rules are broken, it's wise not to lecture a student, therefore, be sure to let your students know what the consequences are for not following through. Here are some great ideas about what to do when the rules do get broken.

To see more about rules and classroom management, you'll find a wealth of information here.
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