The best way to advance one’s teaching career is by watching other educators in action. Being a participant in a lesson taught by a more knowledgeable teacher offers many opportunities for learning. However, occasionally I fear that new instructors can overlook the intricacy, depth, and skill of creating classroom norms that promote learning when seeing a single lesson. Although teaching is a very straightforward process, as we all know, the foundations we lay in developing our classroom culture can occasionally be missed if onlookers only see the results of our patient effort and perseverance over time.
A new teacher observing a veteran educator who has been working with the same group of students for two years might notice students who enter the classroom with purpose, are aware of where to find supplies, start working on the “do now” task right away, and don’t argue about seating arrangements or the day’s assignment. To achieve this degree of normality, it is crucial to undo the rigorous preparation the teacher did before this observation and constantly implemented throughout each lesson.
This starts for me way before I ever set foot in a classroom. Great teachers take their time to think through the expectations for each session and the nature of their desired classroom routines. Simply by having the clarity of thinking and the assurance that you’ve planned for all scenarios, this can instil confidence in new teachers, which will aid advance early career instructors and free them up to concentrate on the lessons being taught in the classroom. In my first few years of teaching, I can still clearly recall preparing and scripting the most basic of routines. When distributing things, who would do what, what I would say, where I would watch this to have the best view, and so on. These rituals were eventually ingrained in both the young people and me.
Here are some areas I’ll be focusing on when I meet my new classes, as many teachers prepare to begin a new timetable.
How to Make a Strong Start to a Lesson:
greet each other
Whenever you can, attempt to be at your door ready to greet students as they arrive for class. This is very significant on a variety of levels. It enables you to warmly welcome your class, addressing each student by name and getting things off to a good start by making a pleasant statement about something specific to them. It develops a rhythm for each class that enables you to forge connections with your students and shows that you are organised, prepared, and ready to teach. Additionally, it enables you to direct students to the tasks you anticipate them to complete upon arrival and to remind them as soon as they enter the classroom. I’m glad to see you seem so eager to learn. I’m eager to see what you come up with today. We don’t enter the classroom with a lot of noise, Bags under tables, and remove jackets and sweaters. Of course, this is not always feasible. I’ve had three different classrooms this year, and I frequently go from one part of the school to another. But whenever I can, I make sure to be at the door, watching the hallway and supervising the entry of students. It’s not just about showing up physically, as a newbie teacher would think, but also about establishing the classroom culture by everything you do, say, and demonstrate to the students.
Lessons always get off to a productive start when there is something for students to think about or do right away on the board or their desks. I believe it conveys to students the idea that every instructional minute is valuable and significant and that no time will be squandered. Typically, I make sure that this is a retrieval job so that students require as little supervision from me as possible, giving them a chance to review prior knowledge and get right to work, allowing me to check attendance and log in to computers. However, there is a warning here, and I believe this is the case where merely observing coworkers might result in well-intentioned but fatal mutations. The assignment or query must relate to the learning. When we are focused on planning outcomes rather than learning, it can be easy to just assign students a “busy” assignment to keep them occupied. This introduction should challenge students’ thinking and expand on what they have already learned.
High Ratio/No Opt Out
It’s crucial that students understand that everyone in your classroom is expected to learn through your interactions with them. Everyone should understand that they must put in hard work, not simply those who are eager to respond and raise their hands. This understanding of ratio and involvement has completely changed the dynamic in my classroom. Some of the best methods I’ve found to guarantee high participation rates in class include using mini whiteboards, cold calling, and annotating live models. My concern is that, once again, merely witnessing colleagues employ these strategies is insufficient to ensure that each and every person in the room is being asked to demonstrate their learning.
To me, student motivation depends on this. Whatever the goal, instruction must be of a calibre that students succeed. The accomplishment inspires. That surge of dopamine when you accomplish. But if it’s too simple, it won’t have the desired impact. Therefore, it’s crucial to correctly pitch the work. Learning is motivational because it gives people a sense of success. Building these helpful learning habits is what contributes to a successful culture.
Never give up. Keep performing the procedures. Never give up. Remind students of your goals at all times. I’m telling you, the seasoned colleague had to do this right away. Although it may appear that everything just happens on its own and the students react for themselves, behind the scenes, there has been meticulous preparation, scripting, and practising of these ostensibly straightforward procedures.
We may learn so much from observing an experienced colleague, but we should be careful not to minimise their practise to only what is superficial. Instead, we should make sure that every movement and word they make carefully reflects their degree of expertise in their field.
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