Creating a classroom where all students feel comfortable, capable, and connected is key to a successful school year. To do this, it’s important to start the school year on the right foot, setting expectations and building foundations for academic success. Between classroom procedures, academic standards, and opening channels of communication, a supportive environment is the first step to helping students reach personal and academic goals. As you prepare for and begin the new school year, keep these factors in mind to support students all year long.
Here are five steps to take to support students’ success in the new school year:
1.Create a foundation for connection.
First and foremost, it’s important to get to know your students and help them get to know you. You can lay a foundation for valuable student-teacher connections by doing ice-breakers, sharing details about your life and interests, and telling students what it is that you love about your job and the subject you teach. Encourage students to also share some of their interests, experiences, and strengths, focusing on who they are as people rather than giving them prompts like “What did you do this summer?” By showing students who you are from the start––and creating an environment where they feel they can be their authentic selves, too––they not only feel more comfortable in your classroom, but they’re more likely to stay engaged throughout the year.
2. Establish clear policies and procedures for your classroom.
One of the key steps to a smooth school year is ensuring your classroom functions efficiently and effectively for all who use it. When students enter the classroom on day one, they often feel nervous and confused about being in a new space with new people and new expectations. Support students by establishing clear and consistent classroom policies and procedures up front, and ensure these standards are always accessible for students to reference throughout the year.
You may also consider surveying students to see what their preferences, strengths, and challenges are. Then, hold a collaborative discussion in which you create classroom procedures as a team. This method ensures students feel heard and everyone in the classroom has a clear understanding of the standards that need to be met for a successful school year.
3.Develop strong pathways for communication.
Aside from connecting with students, the best way to support students is by developing strong pathways for communication. Students need to know how to ask questions, reach out for support, and voice their needs––and frustrations––in the classroom. This means offering a variety of different options for students to communicate with you and their peers, while also finding ways to break down barriers to communication both in and out of the classroom. Ensure that students know where to go to find information, and how to communicate with you when they need more details. Set a foundation for using positive language and asset-based communication, focusing on supporting students’ success rather than remediating students’ challenges.
4. Prepare students for the course content.
For students to succeed, they first must have a clear understanding of what goals they’re trying to reach. Establish and discuss the structure of your course, ensuring students understand how they will be assessed, what the markers of success are, and what the overall goal for the course is. It can be helpful to tell students why they have to meet specific standards within the course, and how meeting these standards will support their learning in later courses and college. Additionally, set classroom standards for collaboration and discussion to cultivate an environment of support and affirmation.
5. Engage students with an exciting first lesson.
Once students understand you, their peers, classroom policies and procedures, and what the course is all about, it’s time to teach your first lesson. First impressions are everything, so a captivating first lesson will engage students in the content and excite them for the remainder of the course. Try starting the school year with a group activity or give an inspiring presentation to the whole class. However, you choose to present your first lesson, go with something that will build students’ interest and give them a better idea of your style, personality, and approach to teaching.
By taking these steps to create a foundation to support students, you will help students reach important academic and personal goals from the start of the school year. If you find that students need further support to meet their learning needs and see greater academic progress, consider FEV Tutor to engage students with Live 1:1 Online Tutoring in your classroom.