My mother, Charlotte, just retired in May after 30+ years teaching high school English. As this will be her first August without having to prep for school, I thought I’d better ask for her top ten teaching suggestions before she forgot them all. Here’s what she emailed me:
- Establish a seating chart at the beginning, but allow time for schedule changes. Some of my colleagues would allow students to sit where they wanted, and they all would end up at the back of the room. I always wanted them under my nose!
- Greet students cheerfully. You may be the only one to do this in their day.
- Have high expectations, but be realistic.
- Dress professionally, even though others don’t.
- Be alert to students whose eyes are focused on their laps – they’re probably texting!
- You gotta have a gimmick – a daily trivia question written on the board works well here. I always used the question cards from the Trivial Pursuit game. The first person to answer as the students come into the room gets a piece of peppermint candy, which enhances higher level thinking skills.
- Surprise the kids once in a while by diverting from the syllabus (Thoreau would love you for this).
- Be consistent in routine and discipline.
- Take care of discipline problems yourself, as much as you can.
- Be real and enjoy your students.
School starts tomorrow. Anybody else got any counsel you’d like to share?