Teaching hints

7th January 2000 at 00:00
Gerald Haigh begins a weekly column on how to stay ahead in the classroom

A disorganised start can destroy the lesson, damage learning and reduce effectiveteaching time * If you have to fetch the children from the playground (a common primary practice), smile at them - it helps to set the tone. Also watch their faces and body language as they pass, and be ready to head off problems with a quick and quiet word, or by taking a child to one side.

* Get to your class in good time. The very best of classes can get up to all kinds of stuff if they are left standing outside, or sitting in the classroom unsupervised. When you arrive you will have to sort it out. Why store up problems?

* Impose your own baseline at the start. If the class is waiting for you outside the room, or at the door, insist on silence and order before they file in.

* Stand justinside the room and make sure they pass you steadily and calmly without rushing to their places. If there are problems, line them up and do it again. On no account get into a shouting match against a background of scraping chairs and general hubbub.

* Preparation, as always, is the key. Get the class working straight away. If necessary, especially with a difficult group, have paper and writing materials on the desks, and work on the blackboard. As they come in keep saying: "There's your work. Start straight away."

* In the primary classroom, "first thing" whole-class routines, such as mental maths and spelling, settle everyone down and set the tone. Children like the routine, too.

* Don't nag. Praise the children who settle down quickly. "Well done Sue, I see you've made a good start."

Next week: how to finish a lesson effectively

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