A lot of patience and preparation is needed to improve student success. Interestingly, when it comes to planning for day one, we can achieve that almost perfectly. However, it’s also vitally important to keep the momentum going once we have begun.
Plan, update yourself, set up the classroom, organise resources, create procedures, parent communication, weekly feedback, and your self-evaluation. To give you a head start I’ve added my free rules template.
If you fail to plan, it simply means you are prepared to have little impact on improving student success. That statement is as true as day and night!
If you are thinking about how to improve student success, you must plan for it! It would help if you planned because it has been proven that planning helps to manage errors, waste and delays. Let me give you some more elaborate reasons why you need to plan!
Make sure you put in your order for materials and set up the desks and seats the way you’ll want them to be. Do your students enjoy coming into your classroom? Do you ever change it up? Or just same old room day in day out.
As a teacher, the classroom is our basic environment. No one likes to works in a dirty and unorganised room. Therefore, classroom furniture should be arranged for optimum student success and teacher style.
There are thousands of ways to arrange desks. Google them, and you’ll find desks arranged into traditional rows, cooperative clusters, horseshoe shape, diagonals and so on.
Once you’ve decided that, place your desk strategically where you can see everyone. However, I like to get rid of the throne as soon as possible. I use a horseshoe table where I can conference with a group of students. You will be surprised, but it does improve student success.
I always love to think of a theme to decorate the room and to set up space for my classroom library. Then, fill it with a variety of books, bean bags, and possibly a comfy chair or small couch.
I also like to put up a few new wall posters relating to topics I will be teaching but not too much. Preferring to leave lots of space for displaying students work.
After you’ve set up the classroom, there’s a huge need for you to get all the classroom supplies and materials ready. Whether you’re a new teacher or you’ve been around awhile, it is imperative to contact school admin; to find out which materials and supplies will be given to you.
To make sure your materials are always available, make a list of all the materials you use. Take stock at intervals to be sure of which needs to be added, modified or changed.
You definitely wouldn’t want to start the new season on a bad note or give the new students an ill impression about yourself. Given that you want to make a good impression and start strongly, you should make sure you put together all the necessary materials needed for work before the first day back to school.
These materials may include your textbooks, lesson notes, visual charts, wall posters, measurement tools, etc. “A hunter doesn’t go into the forest without his gun.”
Learning classroom etiquette will catapult each student towards the final goal of learning early on. Bonding and good relationships between students also helps. So, have a few break-the-ice games for that first day.
Research tells us that students tend to follow rules they create themselves. So, you could download my FREE editable gold classroom rules cards and laminate them. Then have students use the cards cooperatively to create a list of five classroom rules.
It’s important to not just focus on the rules, but also to get to know your students as individuals – their names, interests, and so on. You can use this information to help make the classroom a more fun and welcoming place for them.
Each card can feature a different rule, such as ‘be respectful’ or ‘use kind words’. The colourful design is eye-catching and fun which will help keep your students interested. Or let them create classroom rules posters from the notes on the laminated cards and run a competition for the best poster created in groups.
Don’t want to print or laminate the gold classroom cards? Add the classroom rules cards to your teacher’s website or Class Dojo or Google Classroom so they’re viewable anywhere.
While they’re busy making their rules sign, it’s a great time to tweak your rules and procedures quickly. Then circulate and chat with students. Display the posters for students to judge which one should win, which leads to more discussion on this topic.
Rules and procedures are the ultimate keys to maintaining a well-managed classroom. However, it’s not enough to just tell students what they are; we need to teach the rules and procedures if we want students to succeed.
So, roleplay the desired behaviour, then ask all students in pairs to roleplay it. Then ask a few brave students to act it in front of the class.
Students who thrive at school tend to have a strong teacher-parent communication system. To better understand what practices happen at home. Also, parents can give you more honest reviews about their kids.
When you have effective communication with parent and student, it will enable you to plan effectively. I know we all get busy, but this is so important to student success. The student-teacher relationship is one very crucial one. If you can bond with the student, you can influence his/her reasoning.
If you can, try to have a first-day note sent to all your students’ parents, with a bit of powerful first-day advice for your students. Try to grow their enthusiasm with your words, grow optimism in them too. Help them believe in themselves and imbibe the winning mentality into them—no room for mediocrity.
Regularly arrange for teacher and peer feedback. We have to plan for feedback and encourage it intentionally, it won’t just happen. Cooperative group activities help break the ice for shy students. Breaking that fear only once may be the key that will improve student success in your class.
Take the time to spend at least ten minutes of one on one time with each student per week chatting about anything. I try to conference at least once a week with each student in upper primary about specific ways forward with their work. Students love being special. – Don’t we all?
Students whose behaviour is negative and could spiral downwards, nip it in the bud with a daily 10 min chat about their interests or home or whatever they choose, for at least two weeks.
One very powerful element is to make sure everything stays coordinated. Evaluate your performance and other activities you have put in place. I suggest that you do the evaluation weekly or fortnightly. When you do the review, you can spot where there are lapses and make changes. Also, if you are doing well already, it will be a huge boost to your morale.
Additionally, try to meet with other teachers within or outside your school, find out what the preparations are, add those you think are viable to what you have already and trust me, you are in for a nice school year.