Being a new teacher can so overwhelming! If you are a new teacher, be encouraged, we all felt the same way that first year.
You have come so far already, you have a lot to celebrate!
Next quarter is a chance to grow just a bit more. Take what you are already doing well, and with just a few simple changes, make it great!
This year I have the pleasure of mentoring a new teacher. Recently we sat down together after I observed her teaching a class.
She is doing a fantastic job! We talked about all the awesomeness she is already doing, and four opportunities to grow!
New Teacher Tip: Vary your Volume and Voice
AWESOMENESS: This new teacher really knows her stuff. When observing her, it was obvious she had spent time learning her subject.
Not only did she have good content to share with students, but there were fun facts and interesting tidbits sprinkled in.
OPPORTUNITY: When presenting information, often teachers continue on at the same volume from start to finish. This can lead to students zoning out.
New teachers can easily pick up this seasoned-teacher trick to keeping student attention: vary your voice and volume.
When you are saying something really interesting, drop down to almost a whisper. Like your telling a secret!
When you are saying something amazing – get loud! If what you are saying is amazing, it should be shared in an amazing way!
By chaining the volume and way you speak, your students will be more interested in what you have to say. They will listen better, and enjoy your delivery.
Enthusiasm catches! If you are enthusiastic about your subject, your students will be too!
New Teacher Tip: Practice Wait Time
AWESOMENESS: While I was observing my new teacher, I noticed that she would ask her students good, thought provoking questions.
She asked questions at all the right times: She asked before she taught something new in order to get their juices flowing on the topic. She asked questions during instruction to be sure they were following along. And she asked questions after teaching to check for understanding.
But there was almost no time between the asking and the answering. The first student with their hand up got to answer, or, if no hands went up, she would provide the answer herself almost immediately.
OPPORTUNITY: Increase the wait time between the question and the answer. Give all students a chance to think.
I love this article about the ‘Value of Awkward Silence’ in the classroom. Wait time is described as the amount of time between when a teacher asks a question, and when the answer is provided (either by the teacher or a student).
Research shows that when a teacher asks a question, and then waits (and makes the eager hand-is-up-already student wait), more students become engaged. Student motivation increases, and student responses become longer and more in depth.
Some students just need more time to process the question. Wait time allows them to dig deeper into their learning to find an answer.
Increasing wait time to just five seconds can make a huge difference. When I really want all my students to think about a question, I tell them that I don’t want anyone to speak, or raise their hand, for ten seconds after I ask the question.
I count to ten in my head, and then allow allow students to raise their hand. I am always amazed how many hands go up!
New Teacher Tip: Move Around the Room
This is something I am often guilty of myself. When talking to my students, I stand in one place, and usually face the same direction, calling on the same students again and again because they are in my line of sight.
AWESOMENESS: My new teacher is getting much better at moving around the room! This does a few things for your students. First, it is more engaging.
Students are more likely to track with your words when they have to track you with their eyes.
Also, it helps you stay in touch with your students. As you move around you can monitor what they are doing. Are they getting all the notes? Who understands and who seems confused? Who needs help?
Proximity is a great way to prevent classroom management issues before they start. Students are much less likely to talk with their neighbor, or sneak a peak at their cellphone, if they know you are nearby.
New teachers concentrate so much on content delivery, sometimes it is hard to remember to move around!
On the day I observed, my new teacher was anchored to her desk by her computer. Every minute or so she had to click to get to the next PowerPoint slide!
OPPORTUNITY: Be liberated from your computer by this little clicker! I can not teach without mine now. It has a wireless piece that simply plugs into the USB of any computer, and allows you to click to the next slide (or next Kahoot question!) from anywhere in the classroom.
Plus, there is a laser pointer on the clicker! So you can point to important concepts no matter where they, or you, are. Totally worth the investment.
New Teacher Tip: Give Students a Chance to Use Their Notes
AWESOMENESS: My new teacher had made some great skeleton notes. They were full of detail and places for students to add their own sketches and doodles about the topic.
But that was it. There was nothing more for them to do with the notes besides study with them on their own.
OPPORTUNITY: Encourage students to look at their notes again by giving them assignment which requires their notes!
This can be an exit ticket on the same day, or a homework assignment that night.
One of the best ways to prompt students to use their notes is by asking them questions the next day as a Bell Ringer. I use this method just about every day.
I call them Check-ins. Students answer 10 multiple choice questions using a Google Form in the first ten minutes of class. They must have their notes out during the Check-In, which always has the answers they need!
Every time students are exposed to a topic, they strengthen the memories and connections in their brain, increasing comprehension and recall.
Not only do assignments like these help strengthen student learning, they also encourage good note taking.
Plus, you get an idea of what topics the students still need help with. Google Forms are a great way to check for understanding, and then can be used as a starting point for differentiation.
How is your teaching journey going? What do you need help with? What has gone well? Share in the comments!