Sometimes a new school year can start off on the wrong foot, but that certainly doesn't mean that the entire year has to be a bear. Continue reading to discover four ways teachers can fix a school year that's off to a bad start.
Teachers, let's be honest: teaching doesn't always go as planned, and this may be particularly true at the beginning of a new school year. If you happen to be struggling with classroom management issues, personal inexperience or simply a rough first month, the following tips can help you get your rocky school year turned around as soon as possible.
#1: Get to Know Your Students Better
If the school year is off to a bad start, chances are you aren't the only one suffering. Most students legitimately want to enjoy school, and teachers should want to make it enjoyable for them.
One of the best ways to do this is to get to know your students on a more personal level. Taking the time to talk to each student individually (without prying) about home life, likes, dislikes, motivators and learning preferences can help you get a better picture of why some students:
- Act the way they do
- Might not get along with others
- Struggle academically
It also allows you to better serve your students and shows them that they're more than just names on a class list. If you do your best to form a meaningful relationship with every student you teach and continue to nurture those relationships, the school year should begin to improve.
#2: Ask for Advice from Veteran Teachers
If things are off to a bad start, you're probably feeling stressed, overwhelmed and discouraged. Our next piece of advice focuses on seeking out veteran teachers or other school staff members to ask them for advice on how to handle the issue(s) you're experiencing.
Perhaps they've had similar problems in the past (possibly with the same students), or maybe they have some tried-and-true strategies that are new to you. Whatever the case may be, actively seeking out advice will get you much further than ignoring or downplaying classroom issues. In addition, your coworkers will see that you genuinely care about and want to remedy the situation, which can say a lot about you as a teacher.
#3: Change the Tone
If you're like most teachers, you probably had a classroom management plan in place at the beginning of the school year. This plan likely included things like classroom rules and procedures designed to set the tone for the year. However, if the plan isn't really working for your group of students, it most likely needs tweaking. As hard as that sounds, it's possible and can change the tone of your classroom for the better.
The first way to do this is to change your teaching approach. If you're used to talking over students, make it a point to never begin a lesson or lecture until every single student is sitting quietly in his or her seat and all eyes are on you. This shows your students that you're worthy of and expect respect and won't settle for anything less.
Next, you need to make sure that you're modeling the behavior that you expect, which can be tricky at times. This means trying your best to stay calm and collected when things get tough. It also means acting as a positive light in your students' lives and maintaining a smile, even during the bad moments. Things might not change overnight, but adapting your classroom management plan and modeling positive behaviors can go a very long way toward improving your classroom atmosphere.
#4: Set Up an Incentive Program
It would be false to say that students don't respond to incentives, so why not set up an incentive program in your classroom? Although there are several different ideas for classroom incentives, most focus on rewarding positive behaviors with desirable items or privileges (e.g., snacks and technology use).
It will be up to you to determine which incentives to offer your students, choices that will greatly depend on their grade level. You can even take it a step further and involve students in your incentive program planning. Ask your students what would encourage them to learn about something (e.g., using a tablet). Ask them how they learn best and what motivates them. Make sure that you're providing incentives that students actually care about and desire; otherwise, they may not work to achieve them.
As you can see, there are some solid ways for teachers to fix a school year that's off to a bad start. Remember: just because the year started off rocky doesn't mean it has to end that way!
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