Got Through the First Week of School! What’s Next?

The first week of teaching is always a bit daunting. So many papers and procedures, new faces of both the parents and the kids.  But, now  you’ve met your new class! Whoever you get, you’ve got them for the entire year (usually) and it’s your job to make the best and the most of them! Surely, you can find SOMETHING good about each child-even if they can’t sit still, look at that as something positive! At least they like to move-who wants a dead head anyway? It’s all a matter of attitude, right? And don’t fall into the trap of comparing them to last year’s class or your “best” class, in your mind, or whatever. Allow each class to blossom and produce their own special unique qualities and capacities to learn.

The children always seem to be most well behaved at the beginning of the year-as they sit wondering how you’ll react, checking you out to see how far they can push  you, or maybe they’re just slow to open up and be themselves. Most children are careful and cautious, both great qualities, and quite intelligent. It’s your job to set the limits and the boundaries for behavior and sharing in the classroom. We tend to repeat ourselves a lot in the beginning, giving over the procedures and rules of our classrooms don’t we? Reminding the students to once again, raise their hands to speak, stay in their seats, speak in a soft “work voice” while in the room, etc. A good functioning classroom takes time to develop so don’t be frustrated if it  doesn’t happen all at once.

The best antidote, for lack of a better word, to any classroom procedure hitches, is good solid work! Give the class a  project or problem to solve, for example. Did your mom or dad ever hand you a shovel when you were looking a little down and out, and tell you to go out into the garden and pull the weeds? That’s the general idea here. If things are feeling slightly disorganized or overwhelming, just give the kids an assignment to do. Of course, its got to be something that leads to some result ,but the very act of working on something, helps create that “classroom atmosphere”, well known to seasoned teachers. An example might be a cut and paste puzzle or a graphic arts cut out with coloring.

So, now that you’ve gotten through the initial phase of introductions, it’s time to get down to business. Look at each child’s strengths and his weaknesses, and then try to figure out how to “reach” him or her. The Ziff Technique of teaching children to write first, then read, recommends embracing that whole child (euphemistically, of course) through nurturing with warmth the good and strong parts that you see. Allow him/her to share his ideas, however quirky or unusual,  and endorse him (with enthusiasm!) for his effort. Your approval and smile will go a long way in supporting his self esteem and comfort level in your room. A stern or disapproving look can sometimes turn the child off for the entire year and she might feel too timid to participate and be that ‘star’, that she truly is, at home.

Of course, every day is an opportunity for you to perfect your teaching craft and your role as someone’s special teacher and mentor. Aspire to the highest level, Teachers! We truly are fortunate to have chosen such a noble profession, as we have the opportunity to affect the world in such a dynamic way!

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2 thoughts on “Got Through the First Week of School! What’s Next?

  1. miriam hendeles

    Love the part about embracing the whole child. I remember my 4th grade teacher who taught us in such a creative way, and each of us felt as if we were her favorites, because she tapped into our strengths.


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