Because of the nature of my role, I’m still meeting groups of students for the first time.
We eye each other suspiciously as we circle around waiting for one or the other to draw first. And, like in any standoff, the pressure is most definitely on.
In a short space of time, you have to try and get the flavour of the group and decide what your tactics are going to be.
This is made even more complicated by unfamiliarity, which, in turn, brings with it its own set of variables.
With little prior knowledge, you have to make an attempt to clock the good and the bad or else things may turn ugly.
If you get those first lessons right, you’re off and running, but get it wrong and you’re stuck with the exhausting prospect of playing catch-up for the year. It’s a heck of a lot easier to let go of the reins a little later than scrambling to regain them.
This year I’ve had to mix it up as I’m primarily working with students with high needs, many of who don’t give a hoot about my poker face.
In fact, I adapt my approach given age, vocational area, level and a whole host of other factors.
We need a fistful of techniques because those who we teach and the groups they are taught in are far less hegemenous than other sectors.
So when you mosey on into the classroom for the first time, make sure you’re prepared for anything, pardner.
Tom Starkey teaches English at a college in the North of England