Classroom clinic – First Lesson Focus?
“Dear classroom clinic,
I’m back from my holidays and aware that my first lessons are next week. What advice do you have for these first lessons back?”
Firstly, well done on giving yourself some ‘me time’ and only just starting to think about school again – we know it’s hard. Yet, the question of what to do in your first lesson with a class in September does not have a simple answer as it will vary dramatically depending on year group and subject.
If you are in primary school you may be meeting your new class for the first time and you’ll be spending the whole day with them both getting to know them as young people, introducing yourself and setting up a myriad of classroom routines.
Alex says – “Plan activities throughout the day with your new class that are a combination of ‘get-to-know-you’ games and quite challenging activities. This enables some informal assessment of not only their academic ability but more importantly of their interactions with one another. This will enable you to change your seating plan throughout the day if needed.” says Alex
At secondary school, it can also vary depending on school policy, the department and your classes. Here are some things for you to think about:
- Admin – new exercise books, explaining the curriculum, register and seating plan.
- Behaviour expectations – you may want to clarify your expectations for your classroom and possibly agree on a set of class rules.
- Run a stand-alone lesson – plan a ‘one-off’ lesson or start an investigation for the first week.
- Assessment – it may be that your school or department runs baseline assessments.
- ‘Get to know you’ activities – there is a multitude of Q&A activities out there that you can run with your class to get to know one another.
Josh says – “I would always start with the promise of a quiz. This speeds up the admin and expectations part of the lesson. The quiz then covered geographical general knowledge and important news items from over the summer. The fun of the quiz creates a great positive atmosphere for your fun lesson whilst also giving you a chance to start training behavioural expectations e.g. silence countdown, etc.”
No matter what you end up planning there are some things to always be careful of:
- Time – with introductions, seating plan sorting and lots of admin your lesson will definitely not need to be full length!
- Be prepared – it is worth spending that extra hour or two each day after school to ensure you have enough new exercise books etc. for each class to avoid any tedious searching and timewasting during lessons.
- Name tags – students can easily write fictional names or swap labels…
- Not smiling until Christmas – you’re not a heartless robot (we hope!) so be sure to show students that you are human. But remember to be consistent, fair and firm with expectations and school behaviour policy and ensure you remove your own emotions from and classroom management issues that may arise.