[Effective Teachers] Two teachers, One first day of school

Have you thought about why you are teaching? I mean, really thought about it. Why do you do it, other than you have a group of children who you hope will be become fully functioning adults one day.

Understanding why you are teaching is a first step to become a better teacher. Your journey starts here!

The First Day of School
Douglas Brooks,  a former teacher at the University of Texas-Arlington wrote an article titled, The First Day of School (here) and (here).

Brooks says that teachers do what is the equivalent of a pilot flying without knowing how to take off and without having never seen a runway:

  • most new teachers have never been taught what to do on the first day of school
  • most all teachers never saw a first day of school when serving as a student teacher

As part of his research, Brooks documented some teachers by video tape on their first days of school. He found two types of teachers:

  1. those who spent the rest of the year chasing after their students
  2. those who had fewer discipline problems and more involved learners

So what accounts for these very two different types of teachers (and students)? The answer is in what teachers do in those very first days of school.

The first kind of teacher Brooks saw (Teacher A) is an uninformed novice. She starts the year with a fun activity. She does so thinking it will form a positive impression with her students. But students now expect play instead of work. And the teacher must keep it up or face a non-compliant student.

Opposite that, is the second kind of teacher (Teacher B) who begins the year teaching her students how to be students –how the class is organized, structured, and managed. Students recognize that they are there to learn, not goof off.

In Summary
Brooks discovered the following truths about teachers:

  1. Few teachers are taught what to do on the first day of school
  2. Few student teachers are taught on what to do on the first day of school
  3. What you do on the first days of school will set you up for success or failure for the remainder of the year

A teacher should start the year with a plan, an effective model to follow, knowledge of how to choose activities, and in which order, and knowledge of how to communicate with her students. Having these will rid the teacher of doubts and anxieties that can lead to cloudy judgment and performance.

Assignment
Make a list of what you did with your students on the first day of school. How
much are you like/different from the Teacher A? Teacher B? How is your school year going so far? Do you have a plan? A teaching model? Do your students follow instruction easily or is there back talk?

Keep up with the series to find solutions to some common teacher-student relationship problems.

Up next inshaAllah, Effective Teachers Establish Control

Previously, Did you welcome your students?

Bibliography:
Wong, Harry. “There is Only One First Day of School.”  2000. Teachers.net. Gazette. 4 Dec. 2009. <http://teachers.net/gazette/AUG00/wong.html&gt;.

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