Ajarn Dynamo

Preparing for school (part two)

How to start your semester with a bang

Welcome to the beginning of the school year! So what do you do for the first two days of school? This is the time to organize and structure your class the way you want. This is also the time to pre-assess all new and returning students to determine their level of English. Now let us look at how the first two days of school break down, and the activities you can do for each day. Please note: these activities are designed for a 50-minute period. If you teach in blocks, then the two days of activities can be merged into one day.

1. Teacher introduction. Introduce yourself to your new students. Tell them who you are, what you do, and what you expect. Things to include are where you are from, your qualifications, your likes and dislikes, hobbies, and maybe a small, personal anecdote. Why do you do this? Because it is a lead-in to the second activity of the day.
2. Student introduction. Have your students introduce EACH OTHER, following the model of your introduction.. Pair your students up randomly. Put a list of item they need to include on your white board for them to answer. Give your students 10-15 minutes to write their answers on a piece of paper. During this preparation time, the students should be interviewing each other, and writing down the information given by the other student. At the end of the allotted preparation time, call on your pairs to introduce each other. This activity is good because it allows you to accomplish many things. It allows you to:
a. Assess your student's ability to follow directions.
b. Assess your student's speaking ability.
c. See how well your students work together.
d. Find the troublemakers (or the students who would rather play than to do class work).
e. Learn about your students.

This is the day you set down your class procedures. Class procedures need to me taught and hammered in immediately, otherwise you lose too much time during the school year trying to control your little mob of children. What items need to be covered? Well, how about:

1. Entering the classroom. How do you want your students to enter? All at once? In a group? With or without shoes? (Moreover, I mention this one because at my school, students have to remove their shoes before entering ANY class, as per the director).
2. Getting to work immediately. Tell the students what their work assignments will be by having them written on the whiteboard. Train the students into getting to task right away.
3. When students are tardy. Do the students have to wai you before entering the room? Can they just walk in? Set this policy NOW and IN STONE. NO deviations.
4. End-of-period dismissal. How do you want your students to leave? Does the bell determine anything?
5. Listening to and responding to questions. How should the students answer questions?
6. Participating in class discussions. How much of a percentage of grade is class participation? Tell them now!
7. Understanding. How will you check for student understanding after you disseminate information?
8. When the teacher is absent. What should the students do when you are not in class?
9. Working cooperatively. How do you want your students to behave when working in groups?
10. Keeping a notebook. How should the students organize their notes, class, and homework?
11. Knowing the schedule for the class. Will you preview your class for the next day? Will you have instructions written on the whiteboard?
12. FINDING DIRECTIONS. It is amazing how many students do NOT know where to find directions for class work or homework. Tell them now.
13. Passing in papers. How do you want your students to turn in class work and homework? How about quizzes and tests?
14. Returning work. How will you return work? What should the students be doing while you return work?
15. Headings on papers. How do you want your students to put names and dates on papers? Nicknames or full names? Student numbers?
16. Asking a question. How should students indicate that they have a question?
17. Saying "thank you." Is this something you want your students to do? Many Thai teachers require manners from their students. Will you?

Yes, this is a long list. However, some items will not need to be covered. These are optional and need to be chosen by you. Remember, an effective teacher has well thought-out and structured procedures for all activities. An effective teacher teaches the procedures for each activity early in the year. An effective teacher rehearses the class so that procedures become class routines. In addition, an effective teacher reteaches a procedure when necessary and praises to reinforce when appropriate. Good luck for this new school year!


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