Some Ideas about Teaching



Starting Off As You Mean To Go On

(All NQTs worry about discipline and - as this forum member correctly realised - first impressions are vital.   I read somewhere that people make up their mind about you in the first 20 seconds, but that it takes them up to six months to change those first impressions.

This post was aimed at NQTs about to start their first lessons ever, but what it says applies just as much to more experienced teachers starting off a new year, especially those who may have had discipline problems in the past.)




NQT please help


QUOTE(lindsayh @ Aug 10 2005, 11:33 AM)

would anyone recommend writing my classroom rules etc?

Lots of problems here. I can see how you might want to establish some 'basics', but if they're obvious to the pupils - if they do them automatically in other lessons - why are you making a big deal of them now? What kind of message does that send; is it because you don't really expect or normally get that kind of behaviour? There are some 'accepted' rules (eg put you hand up and wait to be asked before you speak) that I would NOT get them to write down - I would just assume that they know them.
What you could perhaps do is to type up and duplicate a set of 5-or-so 'how to set out my work for Miss H' rules. Have exercise books and sheets waiting on desk while they arrive (or give them out as soon as you get them seated), and your first 'starter' can be to copy up Miss's setting out rules - AND this will give you the chance to start with silence and order.
THEN you must begin to teach.



Secondly any ideas for 3 or 4 lessons introducing history to year 7s?

Troublesomely, I don't believe in this either. I always just get straight down to the syllabus and we address the 'what is history' issues as they arise.
With most children, you get about 5 minutes when they're nonplussed and vulnerable.
In these few minutes they weigh you up - how you deal with the troublesome pupils, how you carry yourself, whether you're nice or not.

So it is vital that you are confident, and pleasant but assertive in those first few minutes.
More than anything else, it is vital that you 'get down to business' as soon as possible.

Why are they in your room? - to learn History.
OK then, as soon as possible, start getting them learning History.
I've seen teachers take 50 minutes putting the pupils into seats, explaining their rules etc. I was not surprised the pupils were getting wriggly towards the end. There are no Brownie points for teaching discipline - it's merely a means to an end. My pupils do not behave because they like and respect or even fear me (though I think they do all three). They behave because they understand that - unless they do behave - no one learns anything and the lesson is not fun. When they do behave, they learn loads and - actually - it's a lot of fun too.

Thus, in those first few minutes:

1.   bring the pupils in and get them to stand behind their desks in silence. Take a short time - but not long - to move a few of them around ... separate the OBVIOUS cases! - but then tell them that you want to get on with the lesson, and you'll finalise the seating plan when you're good and ready. Be efficient and assertive. Make sure they understand that these are not their permanent seats - they'll do for today, but every pupil needs to understand that they may be moved to a more appropriate place in the next few lessons. This is your classroom and people sit where you put them.

2.   Get them to copy your setting-out rules in silence. While they are doing so, you can be handing out textbooks and preparing yourself for the lesson, but maintain full discipline as firmly as is necessary during this first task.

3.   Start out with an unambitious lesson that they will ALL understand. Make sure that you teach and they learn. Do not relax on your determination to maintain silence in work and listening, and proper behaviour in discussion and answering.

4.   At the end of the lesson, if they have behaved properly for you, finish with a plenary that's a bit of fun and carries rewards. You can relax a bit and smile, but be prepared to 'turn' of anyone goes too far.

Posted on: Aug 10 2005, 08:52 PM





To cite this page, use:   CLARE, JOHN D. (2005/2006), 'Starting off as you mean to go on',  at Greenfield History Site (