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Back-to-school teacher tips: Getting to know your new pupils

Back-to-school teacher tips: Getting to know your new pupils

Back-to-school teacher tips: Getting to know your new pupils

  • Monday 14 September 2020

A new school year brings a new assortment of unfamiliar faces and personalities into your classroom. It can take time to figure out how every pupil works best, both individually and with each other. However, don’t consider this a detriment, but an opportunity. Setting up classroom management strategies for the year can help you learn about your pupils (and them about you) as much as it can help control classroom behaviour. With that very idea in mind, we’ve compiled some of these strategies for your 2021 class below. 


Adjustable seating plan 

One of the first great challenges of a new class is the seating plan. Finding which pupils work well together is often a series of trial and error, and that task can feel daunting before a concrete seating plan you’ve neatly put together. Instead of boxing yourself into a strict plan that doesn’t work, make movable name tags for every desk using VELCRO®. That way, you can easily switch pupils around until you’ve found the perfect pairs and groups for the entire class to work in. 


Classroom job chart 

Responsibility is always an alluring power for pupils, especially when given by a teacher. A classroom job chart not only lightens your personal load of work, but also gifts pupils that responsibility and pride for their contributions to the class. There are plenty of designs out there with various patterns and themes, but a fun, modern choice is this phone app–styled job chart. Alternatively, if you’d like to create something simpler, a peg job chart is an easy-to-make yet clean-looking option. To see the creative side of your new pupils, invite them to decorate their peg or name label before adding it to the job chart. 


Call and response 

Good call and response techniques become so ingrained in pupils that many will still respond to them as adults. Not only are they a useful way to quiet a class, they can also be fun patterns that students enjoy repeating. While the classic clap pattern is the go-to option, don’t hesitate to try something different this year like a fun phrase or song. Setting yourself apart from other teachers can be a good way to introduce yourself to the class. A call and response can also be a useful way of representing a transition between different kinds of classwork, like moving from group work to individual work, rather than a silencing technique. 

Problem chart 

There are problems that pupils can solve alone. In one of your first lessons, write a list of questions or situations that your pupils can decide whether or not they need to ask you for help. You can then put these answers into a problem chart, which pupils can look at before deciding whether they need to speak with you. This can help accommodate all those little interruptions that pupils can handle alone.


Connecting personally 

One of the most important parts of being a teacher, from the very start of the school year to the end, is being a dependable figure that your pupils can rely on. In some cases, you may be the only constant adult in their life who has the time to pay attention to them. Make it a daily goal to share at least one moment with each pupil: take a minute to ask them how they’re feeling, what they’re excited about or what’s worrying them. You could also place an ‘I wish my teacher knew’ box in the classroom. This is exactly what it sounds like: a box where pupils can write what they want to tell you without needing to say difficult things out loud. It can be an eye-opening activity that helps you understand your pupils at a deeper level. 


Whatever strategies you end up using, Prim-Ed Publishing wishes you and your new pupils’ good luck for the school year!