Some of the most important work of teaching takes place before the first day of school. Each week, we'll be sharing fantastic tips to give you some great ideas for the school year ahead!

Back-to-school Tip #4: Your role as teacher and classroom manager will be much easier if you create a positive first impression.

Students can detect your attitude expectations, and demands within the first few hours. If classroom activities flow smoothly, students will expect that’s how things should go; if activities are disorganized, they will think chaos is the norm – and will behave accordingly.

From the first minute of the first day, make sure students have an assignment. And from the first, post the assignments in the same place every day so students know exactly where to find them. It is important to get students to work as soon as class begins. This means planning in advance for legitimate activities-not handing out busywork or irrelevant worksheets that contribute to the day’s lessons.

The following list represents the accumulated wisdom of many different practicing teachers. These are the strategies the experts use:

1. Arrive Early

2. Write your name on the board so students can learn it immediately.

3. Have an activity laid out on each child’s desk so children can be productively engaged from the start and you can take care of “housekeeping” details. Try a simple drawing or writing activity.

4. Greet students at the door with a smile and a pleasant “Good morning!”

5. Ask students to sit when they arrive. This helps you create a good working climate right away.

6. Conduct a get-acquainted exercise. (See previous post for fun “Getting-to-know-you” activities for the start of school.)

7. Enjoy a good story and good laugh together to create a pleasant mood and ease students’ fears and anxieties.

8. Present the most important classroom routines in a positive way, as you a regular lesson. Explain, discuss, and give students a chance to practice such routines as opening-of-day exercises.

9. Work with students to develop classroom rules. Discuss the consequences for disobeying the rules. Post the rules.

10. Post a general schedule for lunch, music, physical education, recess, class work, etc. Emphasize and teach routines that will help students move into these periods quickly and efficiently.

Find more tips and helpful hints for back to school in Linda Shalaway’s Learning to Teach.

Learning to Teach...not just for beginners