Make a successful start to the new school year!

 | Sun 11 May 2014 18:27 ICT

With the new school year beginning shortly now is the time when teachers are busy planning for a successful start to term. In order to have a productive year one of the most important things for teachers to do at the beginning of the school year is lay down clear expectations for the students – academic expectations and expectations for student behaviour.

-Academic Expectations
Setting goals for academic achievement at the beginning of term is a useful way to focus the teacher’s and students’ energies. It also sends an important message to the students that their teacher is serious about the students’ development.

Students like to be involved in the learning process and they like to know where they are headed. Showing the students that you have goals and expectations for their academic development and that you have a route planned for reaching these goals will give the students confidence in their new teacher. Recent research has shown that confidence in teachers is a surprisingly important factor for academic achievement.

Academic expectations often include points such as;
– students will be able to write an informal letter to a friend,
– students will be able to talk in detail about their daily routine.
But they can also include factors which assist academic achievement – students are expected to complete homework and submit it on time (without copying it !), students must bring their books to class each day, students are required to only speak English during class the English lesson..etc

— Expectations and Classroom Management
Last week the school at which i teach held a professional development workshop on classroom management. Many teachers championed the importance of laying out clear classroom rules and expectations at the beginning of the school year in order to establish a well ordered classroom.

Classroom rules and expectations for behaviour should not be viewed negatively as some kind of outdated authoritarian approach to teaching. Students actually like clear, consistent boundaries and expectations – these help students feel secure and comfortable in the classroom environment.

One reason why students like knowing a new teachers expectations is because all teachers are different, we have different personalities, different teaching styles, different classroom rules and different expectations. Unless you explain to your students what you expect, how can they possibly know?

Spending a lesson at the beginning of the year focusing on rules and expectation can save a lot of time (and grief) later in the year. By understanding your expectations right from the beginning of the school year students have a clear picture of what is and what isn’t acceptable in your classroom. Furthermore, when students break the rules and fail to meet your expectation, you can ask their fellow classmates to reinforce these classroom rules – peer pressure is my friend 🙂

Of course students always test the boundaries that teachers draw and it is important that rules are enforced consistently. Consistency is key, if the teacher’s rules and expectations appear inconsistent, then students will become confused and the teacher’s credibility may be questioned.

Don’t leave it too late –
It’s best to set up class rules and expectations during the first few days of the term. Teachers who wait until the school year is well underway before laying out their expectations will find it is more difficult to impose these ‘new rules’. Ask any teacher who has taken over a class mid way through the term and 9 times out of 10 you’ll hear the teacher say they wished they’d have been teaching the class from day one.

+Encouraging students to adopt your expectations
Of course just explaining your expectations to the class doesn’t guarantee that the students will follow these to the letter – if only teaching were that easy !

So how can you encourage your students to adopt your expectations?

Without a doubt involving students in this process and sharing ownership makes them more inclined to adopt these rules and expectations. A good way to do this is by drawing up the rules and expectations as a class.
I often have my students work in groups to draw up a list of class rules. Each group then shares their ideas and finally we democratically choose the best ideas from each group.
I also let my students write some expectations for the teachers e.g. Teacher must arrive on time, be prepared, make lessons enjoyable and not set too much homework!
They usually enjoy this and it is an important point for the students to remember – educators must be fair and they are responsible for their students’ development.

Here are some good examples of school rules you could apply in your class ..
Have a great year 🙂