Believe it or not, the first five minutes of class set the tone for the entire rest of the day/class period. I can walk into a new teacher’s classroom and predict by what I see happening in the first five minutes how the rest of the class period will unfold. In order for you to be successful, you must set the tone early and consistently every day of the school year.
Students must find your classroom to be characterized by the following elements:
- Predictable (this doesn’t mean you can’t plan for surprises)
Put yourself in a student’s shoes. If you were invited over to a friend’s house to attend a Tupperware party, how would you feel if–
1. … a large dog sat in a corner waiting to jump on you at your slightest move? (UNSAFE)
2. …the house looked like a pigsty and you could not possibly pay attention to the demonstration because your eyes were constantly pulled to the underwear sticking out of the sofa cushions and the open box of uneaten pizza behind the recliner? (UNTIDY)
3. …you had been to this house before and strange things happened on each occasion? At one party you got no dessert, at another there was no place for you to sit, and the last time, there was a bug in your coffee! (UNPREDICTABLE)
4. …the last time you attended the party, you were overcharged for the merchandise you ordered, and you found out that other attendees were given large discounts–but you didn’t get one? (UNFAIR)
5. …you found that the only seat left was in the kitchen where you could see nothing, hear very little of the presentation, and you had to sit with the hostess’s husband who tried to engage you in conversation about how he was facing knee surgery? (NO FUN)
Would you EVER want to go back to this person’s house for a Tupperware party? How do you want your students to feel when they come into your classroom day after day?
Ask yourself this question? How can I make my classroom safe, tidy, predictable, fair, and fun? Then MAKE IT HAPPEN. Here’s how it works:
Safe–Everybody must be convinced that they will be protected in your classroom. You absolutely must defend all students, from weakest to strongest, from both ridicule and physical harm.
Tidy–You must straighten up your room each night after school and train students to pick up after themselves.
Predictable–-You must devise an orderly set of classroom routines that will operate flawlessly (for the most part) from day to day.
Fair–You must maintain consistency in grading and meting out consequences on a daily basis and not let your emotions rule when you are tired, upset, or stressed out.
Fun–You have a product to sell–education! You must do the best you can to create interesting and motivating lessons with the hope that all students will want your product!
If it is truly your desire to conduct your classroom in this fashion, your first minutes of the school day/class will be productive and enjoyable. This takes practice, but is achievable by all teachers when your heart is set on being the best teacher you can be!