Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Conquering the "So What Now?" Moment

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Conquering the "So What Now?" Moment

Article excerpt

Introducing The New Teacher's Toolbox!

The first years of teaching can be tough: Getting to know a new school, new students, and what really works in the classroom can be a lot to handle! In this new column, Michael Romano will share some insight from his first years of teaching--and some tips to help new (and even veteran) teachers along the way.

I can remember it well. The bell had just rung, and 26 students were sitting in their desks. It was my first period class on the first day of school, and I was fresh out of graduate school with a brain full of ideas about how this class would go. But with 26 pairs of eyes staring at me, all of the theory seemed useless. So what now? I thought.

Any veteran teacher can recount that moment on their first day of school. The best piece of advice a colleague gave me that morning was to embrace the anxiety and anticipation and savor the day. The first day of school is always a blur with so many tasks to accomplish--discussing expectations, distributing books, learning names, introducing course materials--and there is always the concern that you will rush through too quickly or talk too much and run out of time. There are a number of tips I picked up from other teachers that helped me get through that day; these ideas certainly made my first day--and every first day since--smoother.

Own it. Cliches are so trite, but it is true that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Walk into that first class relaxed but energized, and with an attitude that you own the place, but without pretension. If you demonstrate confidence, your students will see it and respect it.

Preparation, preparation, preparation. As with all lessons, preparation is the key to success. Create your seating charts in advance; alphabetical charts are perfect for day one. Lay the textbooks out in a convenient spot so you are not reaching and huffing in front of the class.

Get all the information. I like to have a "Student Info Sheet" on the desks as students arrive so they can begin working immediately. This gives you an opportunity to uncover some important information and keep students engaged while you distribute books and answer questions. …

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