The new term is just around the corner, to bring you out of your summer lull. If you are starting in a new school, or have a supply teaching role lined up, you may well be feeling a bit nervous. Here are some of our preparation and teaching ideas to get you ready for the new academic year:
Maintaining discipline in the classroom can often be an uphill struggle, and it’s essential if your teaching is to have any effect at all. So on day one, make a strong, positive impression and you will have set yourself up for the rest of the term.
Start by paying attention to yourself. The health and self-confidence tips that work in everyday life apply to teaching too. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep on the last night of the holidays. In the morning, organise yourself in good time so that you don’t feel rushed, eat breakfast, and put on working clothes that make you feel good about yourself. If you are calm, relaxed and confident, this mood will carry over to your students.
Some of your pupils will be nervous; some will be bored. It is your job to bring a positive atmosphere into the classroom, putting them at ease while motivating them at the same time. Remind yourself why you love to teach your subject, and convey that love. Be fun, friendly and firm.
Keep their attention
Keeping your lessons fresh in the context of the often repetitive and restrictive national curriculum can be a challenge. Remember what inspires you yourself about the subject, and look for leeway in the curriculum to use your creativity. For example, relate set texts in English to modern popular stories and music, to demonstrate how classical authors’ literary techniques are still in use today.
Begin each lesson with a firm plan. Students will work best if they always have a goal in mind, and if you yourself never lose momentum or seem at a loss. We found this great article here from the TES as an example of how to teach Shakespeare creatively.
Vary your methods
Some students thrive on reading and writing as forms of learning, but there are many others who do not. Experiment with the three different types of learning: auditory, visual and kinesthetic. Auditory learners, for example, will benefit from using music as a learning aid. This technique is particularly effective in teaching languages, where singing songs can help students memorise key words and phrases wholesale.
If you want to read more about different types of learning, we found this article particularly useful.
As a school teacher, you are likely to have various duties beyond teaching itself. Maintaining discipline while ‘on duty’ in the playground or the lunch queue can be challenging. Encourage your faculty to take measures such as staggering lunch breaks to give children better access to playground equipment, increasing staff:student ratio during breaks, and ensuring that a senior faculty member is always on the duty roster, which can all help to take the pressure off individual staff and make problems less likely.
As an individual, maintaining a visible presence while on duty can encourage good behaviour among students and will prevent many incidents from ever developing.
Teachers have a duty of care towards their students, and, as trusted adult figures, are an important port of call in times of distress. If you find the idea of managing pupils’ problems daunting, prepare by reading up on the skills involved. Techniques such as active listening, which involves appearing attentive and noting details, can be invaluable.
Remember that the most important aspect of pastoral care is often not your ability to provide a solution, but to listen and offer validation. Remember pupils’ names and what is likely to be on their minds, and check in with them without prompting, which will encourage them to confide.
These techniques should help you prepare to enter the new term as both a strong teacher of knowledge and a supportive pastoral and authority figure.