Getting Started: the first week of school sets the pace for the entire rest of the year!

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I will never forget that very first day of school during my first year teaching. Boy, was I scared! How would the students react to me? Would they take me seriously? How "mean" were they?

Teaching high school and middle school kids is not easy. The most important thing was to not let the kids smell fear. Entering that very first classroom on that very first day is similar to a lion trainer entering the lion's cage. I had to be confident and firm and show them who was boss. But how would I do that?

As you are getting started on your teaching career, undersand one thing: especially during the first week of school, preparation is everything! No matter how you slice it, the most important element is PREPARATION. Being prepared means the following:

  • deciding on your teaching philosophy (what is most important to you about teaching?)

  • what are the rules and consequences going to be?

  • what are your "late work" policies going to be?

  • what is your weekly routine in each classroom going to be?

When you are getting started, you must decide on the above four points. After that, you will need to create a syllabus.

I know many teachers who don't give a second thought to a syllabus, but I believe that is a big mistake.

Why create a syllabus?

A syllabus presents you, your teaching style, and your expectations not only to the students, but to the parents.

You present an aura of professionalism and you announce to the students and their parents that you are prepared, you are organized, and you are serious about teaching your subject matter.

I always require the students and a parent to sign the syllabus within the first week of school. I also ask for the parent's e-mail address and/or phone number. This will come in very handy when you need to contact them about their child in the future.

"I am loving this site! I stumbled on it in a frantic search for some help in teaching Creative Writing & I found you! Thank you SO much!" ~ Angie from Buffalo, NY

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