Jason Gibson

3 Keys to Starting the New School Year Off Right

This weeks’ post comes from Jason Gibson, Learning and Behavior Consultant in Nashville, TN. You can find him on Twitter @jasonLgibson Thanks Jason!

Classrooms are coming to back to life again after break and are filled with students brimming full of potential. The potential for incredible success and also the potential for unfortunate failure. Thankfully educators are the captain of their own classroom and this post is meant to provide some encouragement during these critical first weeks. Below you will find three critical keys to starting the year off right.


Image of teacher calling on student raising her hand

1. Capture their interest. The reality of many classrooms today is that they are boring. You have an adult standing in front of the room droning on and on about a subject, or maybe the classroom is a worksheet factory where the piles never seem to stop. Don’t be those teachers! Do something that captures their attention and lets them know that this year will be different. Let them know what you have to teach them is meaningful and exciting! If you have created a class that students are excited to walk in to, then you have kicked the year off right. Remember, students engaged in learning tend to not be engaged in misbehavior.

Idea in Action

When students are walking in to the classroom, have a variety of technologies available for them to try before class begins. Place a series of prompts on the board or on paper that challenges them to use all the creativity they can in 5 minutes. When class time begins, highlight their work and connect what they have done to the lesson for the day.

2. Establish the boundary lines. Be clear upfront with your expectations for success. Let them know what is acceptable and not acceptable in your room. Many times we do not think about it until we see it being done wrong. Instead of having your students learn by failing, start them off with what they need to know. Keep them stated as things “to do” rather than things “not to do”. This is much simpler. Can you imagine how long a “not to do” list could be?

Idea in Action

Say this:  “Keep your hands, feet, and inappropriate comments to yourself”

Not this:  “Don’t bother anyone around you”

3. Let them know you care. In many schools, it can be easy to feel like a number in a student factory. This is especially true in higher grades as schools get larger. The best gift you can give early on is acknowledgment. Let them know you care enough about them by trying to learn their name as quickly as possible. What is even better is to use their names frequently. Everyone likes the feeling of being somewhere they belong and this will help that process. You will have students that prefer to be invisible, and this will let you know who they are so you can start the journey of uncovering why.

Idea in Action

Say this:  “Angela, I’m glad you’re here today. Thanks for coming prepared.”

Not this:  “Hi”

Give these first days of school your very best. They are your best chance to capture the hearts and attention of your new students. This is true even for those students that have been especially tough for other teachers in the past. You might be the teacher that will finally unlock their potential.

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