Starting a Teaching Job Mid-Year
For teachers, starting in a new class in January requires a unique kind of pre-planning. You’re stepping in mid-year (for any number of reasons, some of which you may not find out until after your in the job) and you have completely different challenges to face than a teacher starting in August or September. Here are a few classroom management tips to help you make a smooth transition into your new classroom:
Learn your students names- immediately.
This one goes so very, very far. Sit down the first night and memorize those names. As many names as you can cram into your brain. Then make it a point the next day to call on as many students as you can, by name. You should have every name down cold by the end of the first week. This will go a long way towards showing the students that you care and are on top of things. They will remember it- trust me.
Send home a letter to parents.
Introduce yourself. Give a bit of background about your experience and your training- the parents want it and they’ll appreciate not having to chase you for it. Make sure you mention how excited you are for the opportunity to work with their children and encourage them to contact you if they have questions or concerns. Establishing an open line of communication as soon as possible will go a long way towards getting parents on your side.
Establish your authority.
Lay out the rules and consequences clearly on day one and be prepared for the first attempt to cross them. Someone will try and you can bet the entire class is going to notice how you respond. This is not to say you should use consequences to strike fear into your students; it’s more that kids will naturally try to find out how serious you are about the rules and how far they can bend them. Be ready to set the tone right away and remain friendly yet firm.
Set up a clear incentives program
This one is good for positive reinforcement. From the beginning, students will be testing to see how seriously you take the rules. They will also be looking to see what path you give for moving forward. So make sure as you are laying down ground rules that you are also clear about how to do well in the class and how to earn rewards. Give them things they can earn in increments, from rewards like reading time (or some equivalent) to helping with some coveted classroom task. The more opportunities you give, the more students will have something to work towards achieving, instead of just trying to avoid negative consequences.
Plenty of teachers start mid-year in a classroom, and with a solid plan, you can have a well-established routine by Spring Break. Make sure you recruit the other teachers in your hall to help you get up and going as quickly as possible. Having a plan for classroom management will make those first few weeks a lot smoother- for you and for your students.