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Setting off a successful school year

Setting off a successful school year

4 September, 2015

The first week of the new academic year has passed and there will already be much to reflect on for teachers. Whether this is the very start of your career or just the latest beginning as you familiarise yourself with another new class, September can be the springboard for a year ahead of learning, enjoyment and achievement.

Although it may not immediately appear so, children and teachers share plenty in common. When September comes around this is more the case than ever, as the nerves of a new school year come into play for both. With the onus on you as a teacher to guide your students in a successful direction it is natural to feel uneasy at this time of year. However, here are just some of the reasons to approach the coming months with energy and enthusiasm.

New students and new challenges

Even if you happen to be staying with the same class you taught for the previous year this is still very much a clean slate in many ways. There are fresh targets to set and work to and if you have an entirely new set of students, are working at a new school, or just starting out full-time in the profession, there are different surroundings to take in and relationships waiting to be formed.

Getting to know your class

The most effective teaching comes from taking the time to get to know those you are working with on an individual level. Developing an understanding of what gets the best from them, the areas in which they are strong and where they require particular help is crucial. We can all think back to the teachers we once had and it is the ones who made a real effort to build a connection with us who last longest in the memory. Opening up the lines of communication with parents from the outset is especially beneficial in making sure everyone is on the same wavelength and you could also start a class project in which students can tell everybody about themselves. At first you will struggle to remember everyone’s names so this is a fun way to get around that, while it can also be adapted for the age group you are working with. Respect is earned in a variety of ways and when a new school year begins you have the chance to plant the seeds of a lasting positive impact.

Creating an enjoyable atmosphere

Classroom learning isn’t about simply locking down into a working environment with no freedom for fun or expression. One of the first ways to help ensure that the atmosphere is one for your students to thrive in and for you to enjoy teaching in is to let them come up with the rules to abide by. This may sound a scary prospect but it is about allowing them to identify the behaviour and codes of conduct that are acceptable. While you will ultimately agree on these rules as a class this is a good collaborative exercise and students will know if they have stepped outside of the boundaries because they were the ones who set them. You can also establish potential rewards for when the class has worked well and being able to create such positivity for yourself and others is undoubtedly something to feel good about as you begin this school year.

An opportunity for you to grow

For teachers, the students are the primary concern but your own personal development should never be forgotten. In short, a new school year represents all-round opportunity. As a teacher, you get to be a driver of that while also learning yourself and getting to be around new personalities. You’ll be amazed when the year is over just how much change and growth you and your class will have gone through. Although there are times when it is easy to forget and the climb might seem steeper than you’d imagined, you are making a genuine difference in the lives of others and helping to shape their future, and what could be better than that?

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