When I’m not marketing my book “Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!” I teach voice. The schools in our area started last Monday and to my dismay, my voice students came to their lessons exhausted and frustrated. Why you ask? It appears some educators do not understand middle and high school students are not that far removed from elementary children. In what way? These adolescents want to reconnect with their friends and enjoy a first week of school void of tests, threats and terse teacher directives. Unfortunately many of the teachers in my district jumped in with the “business as usual” rigidity of the no nonsense approach.

What exactly am I addressing? These actually transpired. Read and weep:

  • Many students missed their first two days of classes due to faulty schedules. The people helping with the situation were impatient and rude. Really? This process couldn’t be corrected in the previous spring or before school started? The first contact with school is a negative one? Why, why, why?
  • English teacher told class that taking drama class was a waste of time since none of her students would ever make it in Hollywood. Do not ever speak poorly of any colleagues or other subject areas in your classroom.
  • Math teacher took roll and then gave out a test to determine placement.
  • Don’t threaten two hours of homework every night in order to advance the agenda of using class time wisely. Don’t threaten period.
  • Remember ADHD students are challenged with too many posters, fliers and colors in a classroom. I was guilty of this one.
  • Students do not enjoy sitting in a pod of four other students, facing each other and having to converse. Organizing pods is effective down the road, not in the first week. First day of this class presented unnerving eye contact with total strangers

What do students want? What would parents like? What makes the most sense? Use the first few days to foster a genuine connection with your students. This can be accomplished with ice-breakers and group activities. Students sense immediately if the instructor is invested. Get to know everyone of your students on an authentic level. It would be more productive spending the first week of school easing kids into the rigors of learning. Postponing the “do or die” assignments, tests, and quizzes will not hinder your curriculum calendar. Instead, your creating the freedom to learn in a supportive environment will insure comprehension moves at a faster pace.

I address strategies in my book for effective classroom management, discipline and learning. Buy your copy today on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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