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Tips of the trade: 28. Starting a lesson

A lesson is won or lost in the first 10 minutes. So how can you maximum the chances of delivering a fantastic lesson?

Get there before the class. It's amazing how often this opportunity is lost for the sake of a coffee or a snatch of conversation in the staffroom. By being at the door to greet arrivals by name, you send out a powerful and positive message about whose lesson this is.

As for lining them up outside, if you can do it, what have you proved? And if you can't? We've all seen and tried the "get students to stand in a line while their mates are going past" game. Get them in and working as fast as possible instead.

Getting them in quickly leads to tip two: always have work out ready for them. These starter activities can be anything from writing down the homework to completing a word search. They are useful because they get the lesson off to a business-like start, and identify any tricky customers early on.

The third bone of contention is the register. Why do it at the start, and in public? Why not do it yourself, quietly? If you want to do it, but find it tricky, make up a game - time each class with a stopwatch or whisper their names. If a class hasn't been co-operative, call the register after the bell has gone. That will surprise them.

Get the basics right and enjoy the greatest job in the world.

Jeremy Rowe is deputy head at Bishops Park College, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex. Have you any useful tips for new teachers? We pay pound;50 for all tips published. Send yours to

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