Seven years ago, I was agonizing over my fast approaching first day of school. As a brand new teacher, with only college teaching experience and a master’s degree in science (not education), I probably read every single new teacher teaching tip I could get my hands on. On this blog, I will write about several new teacher tips in the upcoming weeks!
I remember reading one tip that stood out as soooo simple. Almost too simple. But it works.
In the beginning of each class period, students rush in and start to chat. They talk to their friends they missed all of the 23 hours since they saw them last. They continue conversations they started in the hallway. They debate the controversial topic that started in History. They complain and exaggerate how much English homework they have tonight to each other (and to me). Some of them rush to scribble their name on their homework they are handing into me.
And what am I trying to do at the beginning?
First of all, I have always had to share a room and I have always had to move around to different rooms. So in those last minutes of passing time, I am writing announcements on the board, collect homework, and give bathroom visit permissions. After the passing time is over, the bell rings and I want to start class.
Every teacher struggles at first with how to get the kids to be quiet. I have found the most effective way is to say “Good Morning!” in my normal volume voice. And then smile. And wait.
I wait until each student has turned around and is ready to start.
I don’t yell “Quiet down!”. I don’t give students evil eyes until they shut their mouths.
Only “Good Morning” and silence. Students very quickly learn that the phrase means I am ready to start and class has begun. They will also learn to alert their classmates who weren’t listening that it’s time to start as well.
I am sure that there are a lot of different phrases you could use in place of “Good Morning”. “Ahoy, maties!” “Live Long and Prosper!”… Any phrase would probably do. But the key thing is to be consistent and use the same phrase each day and the second key thing is the wait.
To all you experienced teachers out there, what tip would you give to a new teacher?