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Back to School

As I write this, school children are enjoying the heady freedom of just being children for six weeks or so. Freedom from schoolwork and weather that’s been decent enough on some days means that many of them are having plenty of fun. Unfortunately, fun can’t last forever, and neither do the summer holidays.

Joe Morgan Back to School

The start of the new school year can feel like a daunting affair, not just for the students, but the teachers as well. Because, while most teachers won’t have had quite as relaxed a holiday as their students, it’s still coming back to work to largely unmotivated students. After all, six weeks is plenty of time to forget things you learned, as well as students get out of the habit of the school routine. Not to mention that summer learning loss is hardly the only challenge facing teachers and students.

Because, it’s very likely that, unless the school is small enough, the start of a new year also means a new teacher and possibly new classmates as well. The lack of familiar social circumstances is going to be distracting and off-putting for many school children. And, on the teacher’s end, they have to get to grips with a set of students they may be broadly unfamiliar with. It’s this second issue that I’ll be focusing on here, as I’ve already discussed summer learning loss previously.

On the subject of what I have to say about adjusting to a new class, it largely revolves around one fundamental idea: ease your class into things. It can be tempting to try and jump straight into the curriculum. And the higher up the school years your class is, the more they need to get done. But, for young students in particular, you’ll have a much easier time getting them to learn if they’re comfortable with their classmates and you. So you may wish to spend a bit of time engaging in various ice-breaker activities. And there’s no rigid formula to follow here, so you can decide based on what your students respond best to. Are they in the mood for something more straightforward? Why not have them write up a list of questions and interview each other? Or, why not have them bond over playing some games?

Of course, it’s also important for your students to get to know and trust you. As the teacher in the room, it’s your job to keep the class functioning as you support them. And that’s a lot harder to do if they don’t feel comfortable approaching you. A good way to start building a working relationship with them is to ask them a bit about themselves. Not only does it show that you’re taking an interest in them (which is important, because you should), but it gives you something to work with in terms of knowing how to approach them. Of course, the same thing works in reverse; your students will feel more comfortable approaching you if they feel like they know you. So be sure to give them something to work with and tell them some things about yourself. Something to keep in mind for younger classes is that the unfamiliarity of their surroundings can get younger children worked up. So be sure to break up the socializing events with quieter activities to do by themselves.

Once your students are feeling more comfortable in their new circumstances, you can roll up your sleeves and get on with the curriculum. But do keep in mind that you can lay the groundwork for their next teacher when you reach the end of the year as well.

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The author

Joseph Morgan is a Content Executive for Twinkl; an educational resources company. Before joining Twinkl, he worked in the care sector as a support worker for St Cuthbert’s Care.

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