Every new teacher wants to make a big impact and a great first impression when they arrive at a new primary school in the UK. These classroom hacks and teaching tips will help you to breeze through the transition from new teacher to much-loved Sir or Miss and help you set the tone for the learning journey you’ll undertake together.
Hack the classroom
Getting your layout right can be the key to creating a great learning environment. Whether you’re faced with blank walls or last year’s faded displays, here are five hacks for making the classroom environment work for you.
1. The cathartic clear out
Don’t arrive expecting a blank slate. Chances are your classroom will be filled with your predecessor’s displays. Don’t grumble about it – instead, have a thorough clear out so you can start creating your own learning environment.
2. Think like a learner
When you’re creating your classroom layout, think about the needs of your children. Can they all see the board without having to crane their necks? Will your choice of colour scheme work for everyone and are you in danger of creating too much clutter and visual noise with your displays and areas? Take a step back and work on a classroom layout that works best for your learners.
3. Keep it lean
It’s very tempting when you arrive in a new environment to want to stamp your authority and put into practice everything you’ve learned through your experience as a teacher. Not only can it be exhausting covering every inch of space with lovingly crafted displays, but it can be overwhelming for your pupils too. Strip it back and think about giving your children space to learn and move. A cluttered classroom is not a productive learning environment.
4. Cultivate curiosity
Remember that your new class will be really eager to get to know you, so be prepared to deal with their curiosity and make a habit of cultivating it to deepen the bond between yourself and your pupils. Try placing an item with personal interest on your desk and encourage your learners to talk about it. It could be a photo, an unusual shell or a memento you’ve picked up in your travels. In a similar vein, place a copy of your favourite book in the reading area and encourage the class to give feedback on it and ask you questions about why it’s such a favourite of yours.
5. Space to grow
Don’t try and present your class with a finished environment on the first day of term. Creating a beautiful learning environment is a collaborative task you’ll undertake together with your learners, and it may take you in quite a different direction to the one you originally envisaged when they’ve put their individual stamp on it.
Make your classroom activities meaningful
Whether you’re teaching in the UK or around the globe, you want to create lessons that pop and earn the approval of your pupils, but you also want to use them to set the tone for your learning journey. These 5 teaching tips should help you do just that.
1. Job applications
Instead of simply handing out roles like ‘table monitor’, use this as an exercise in responsibility. Discuss the role of classroom jobs and the qualities needed for them, then encourage your pupils to apply for the job that suits them best.
2. Reminder labels
Remembering all the things that should be in a school bag can be a daunting task for children, so spend some time creating reminder labels that won’t just take the pressure off your pupils but will be useful for parents and carers to help them help their children to establish a routine.
3. Shake up the old ways
Though children like routines, reinventing the way you do things can make them seem relevant, engaging and new again. Take the book review. Rip up those book review worksheets and ask your learners to record their views on the books they read using audio or video. A QR code can be used to capture the information and added to the cover of the book. Other readers can now scan the code and link to your learners’ opinions.
4. Build relationships
Engaging with parents and carers and creating meaningful relationships is a basic strategy for behavioural management and support throughout the year. Consider creating a class blog that’s accessible to parents or use a programme like Class Dojo to connect with parents and carers.
5. Be prepared
Don’t be afraid to challenge your learners with well planned and engaging lessons. After all, teaching is what you came here to do. The collaborative learning journey is at the heart of everything you’ll do together in the classroom so don’t be afraid to really teach. You’ll find your pupils appreciate your approach far more than being asked what they did on their holidays.