12 Effective Tips for a Cool School Year

Welcome to the new school year, my fellow teachers!

 

Before the school days start to roll, we hope you’ll go through these do’s and don’ts to fire up another awesome school year.

I have tried these activities in my own classroom and the results are amazing! Why? Because these activities ensured a smooth school year.

Do…

1.       Make a class contract that both you and your students can sign.

The beauty of a contract which you and your students prepared is that they have that sense of ownership. This helps them realize that they should own up to what they wrote in their contract. I find that asking them, “How do you want your classmates to treat you when you are discussing or sharing?” would make them give answers such as, “I want them to listen to me” or “They should stop talking and look at me”. Have the students list down their responses on a cartolina and decorate their contract. Don’t forget to make everyone (including you) sign it!

2.       Teach them how you want them to behave.

It’s not enough saying to the kids that they should behave properly. I did that during my first year of teaching and it only left me and my students clueless, and worse, frustrated! As years went by, my mentors helped me realize that I should specify to my students what they should do so that order remains in the class. Things such as proper raising of hand, how to greet the teacher (tone and posture), passing of papers (i.e., quizzes, homework, etc.) and lining up are small but important things to be considered. If done properly and automatically, these things contribute to a great school year.  (Try role playing!)

 

3.       Think of a “quiet” sign/cue to call their attention.

I once learned this in an ACELT seminar way back. We need to think of ways to signal/cue or kids to listen to us. More importantly, the sign has to promote SILENCE. How can we make our students silent if our signal promotes noise? I told my kids that everytime I would raise my hand, they also have to raise their hand AND close their lips. That way, their attention is ON ME and they STOP TALKING as well. The silence calls their other classmates’ attention (funny how sudden silence calls our attention hehe) and do the same! Try it! It really works! I can vouch for that.

 

4.       Check their own materials and other school supplies.

This is an essential. This is not to intimidate nor scare them that they will be punished if they have incomplete materials. Explain to them that this is simply to remind them (and their parents) to acquire the necessary materials ASAP for a smooth start to the year. I try to do this as fun and open as possible since some kids feel embarrassed when their peers discover that their materials are lacking. What I do is I enumerate the materials slowly while the kids check THEIR OWN materials. If they are still missing a material, I tell to write it down on their diary to remind them and their parents.

 

5.       Keep a personal directory of students’ personal information.

Every year, I give a blank personal information sheet to each student. This way, students can write basic information about themselves which are necessary in cases of emergency. Students should write their telephone numbers, address, parents’ names, etc.

 

6.       Explain to them about the school’s vision and mission.

It is only right for the entire school (students, staff and parents especially) to work for the same goal. Therefore, let the first week of the school be the chance to revisit the school’s vision and mission.

 

7.       Explain school rules and regulations.

Some students ask why a certain rule is made a rule. Before, this would shock me. But the years have taught me to appreciate moments such as this because it’s a chance to teach the kids more than academics. Perhaps, what’s more important than explaining rules and regulations is explaining WHY we have to follow these rules, and the effects of disobeying them. This way, our students will know that rules exist to promote the welfare of everyone (and not because we want their lives to be miserable. JUST KIDDING!).

 

8.       DO HAVE FUN!

Think of fabulous ice-breakers that your students will surely remember till the end of the school year. (This is going to be our next article so don’t forget to check out this website next week!)

 

Don’t…

 

1.       Forget to smile.

Frankly, I don’t smile the very first time my students see me. But as the first day progresses, I allow myself to smile. This helps the kids to realize that I’m not the type that they can easily “try”. I’m not saying that I try to frighten my kids. It’s just to remind them that I am the parent in the classroom and they have to follow me. It really depends on your style. =)

2.       Be nervous.

I used to bring a hanky everywhere I go but I had to lose it. This is because I had the notion that this would help me become more confident. This new year, try to breathe, relax and JUST ENJOY THE DAY with your students. Remember, you’re setting the mood for the entire class. If you’re tense, then they are too. But if you’re happy, then they’ll have fun as well.

 

3.       Lecture right away.

Come on, give you and your students a break. Just build an awesome rapport with them first. =)

 

4.       Forget to introduce yourself!

When I was a kid, I would wonder who the alien is in front of my classroom. I would wonder how I can trust someone who hasn’t even said anything about herself. My old teachers barely went beyond saying their names. However, some professors in college went overboard as to mention all their M.A. ‘s  and Ph.D’s and all other letters they can add to their names. What I would usually do is mention my degree, years of service to the school and hobbies. This way, the kids discover that I know my stuff but at the same time that I am just a normal human being like them to whom they can relate with.

 

Try these tips and let us know how your first day will go. =)

Cheers to a new school year! Happy teaching!

What is your Teaching Paradigm?

The question above is almost always present in every job interview. Almost always present but not really expected. It’s a question that can throw any teacher completely off guard, make us cringe or on the other hand, make us stop and actually reflect.

Though this question may be commonly encountered during the job interviews, it doesn’t and shouldn’t mean it should be left there. After five, ten even forty years of teaching, do we go back and answer this question? Can we answer this crystal clearly and unflinchingly?  Do we even have an answer for this one?

Perhaps it’s better to ask ourselves, “do I even HAVE a teaching philosophy?”

Perhaps, we’ve been draining all our energies and efforts in the classroom without really having a concrete set of teaching beliefs to hold on to. Inevitably, our classroom activities and actions seem in conflict with each other.

Fear not if you’ve forgotten the various teaching philosophies. Here’s a quick look at some of them:

We hope that revisiting these terms would help clarify your teaching beliefs:

Philosophies on Education

  1. Behaviorism – is the belief that students learn through an external stimulus, thus the need for rewards and punishment
  2. Cognitivism – argues that students learn through the different mental processes such as thinking, memory, knowing and problem-solving
  3. Constructivism – believes that students learn by “constructing” connections between new information and background knowledge (schema)
  4. Humanism – is a worldview that students learn because self-actualization is the ultimate goal of human beings
Follow the path

These are the major teaching paradigms. Interestingly, we can already decipher their meanings simply by looking at their names. If you are a teacher who believes that students learn by mastering their behavior, then consider yourself a behaviorist. You’re a cognitivist if you feel that students learn by unleashing their cognitive (or brain) power. If you think that students need to understand new information by relating it to what they already know, then you are a constructivist. But if you argue that students learn because they want to be the best person that they can be, then call yourself a humanist.

What if, after reading this, you realize that you believe in all the philosophies? What if you’re the type who combines some of the features of all the philosophies and adopt them in your classroom? Does that mean that what you’re doing is wrong? Once again, have no fear. It means you’re an eclectic.

We hope that as teachers, we continue to reflect on our teaching paradigm. This way, we are continually guided on how we approach our students’ learning.

Happy teaching!

P.S.

As a challenge, look into your lesson plans, teaching materials and assessments, and try to find out which teaching philosophy you uphold. =)