Donald A. Fuller
Social Studies Teacher

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For the veteran educators, no one wants to think of starting back to school this close to summer break. There are final exams to give, boxing up your classroom, and vacations to think about. However, if you are just finishing up your student teaching experience and lucky enough to land your first real teaching gig, instead of planning for a vacation you might just be dwelling on how to prepare and what to expect during your first days with your own classroom.

Coming from personal experience this is something that can plague your thoughts all summer long. You did great in your clinical and student teaching. There was always an experienced teacher to back you up, to give you guidance, or just get the students under control if they got a little out of hand. NOT TO WORRY! This blog will help guide you through your first days. Coming from someone who began his teaching career with the most difficult students, I feel that I have something to offer you that will both calm and guide you in this new journey.

The first thing I would suggest, no matter the grade level or subject, is to make your class some type of syllabus. You may think that this is too advanced for the primary or secondary levels, however you can adapt it for the level of your students. This serves a few purposes; first it helps to keep you organized and give you a framework to follow. The second thing it does is layout what your students will be studying throughout the school year. You can include behavior expectations, basic class rules, and how you handle discipline in your room. It is also very helpful to include a parent signature portion. This allows for the parents to get on the same page as you. This way if issues arise the parents and students both know what to expect. You can even entice the students to take it home and get it signed by offering bonus points.

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The next aspect I would focus on is a system of positive reinforcement. This is something to reward those that follow the rules, complete assignments, and do what you expect of them. This also serves to encourage those students who look to break the rules, be disruptive, or not do the assigned work. In the past I have used a variety of different strategies. Candy is always an easy go to. Students always like food items. This would be something you hand out randomly to those who are doing what you have asked or have turned in homework. You could also make it make a reward only at the end of the week, something that the students have to work towards and can look forward to. This idea is easy but can become costly through the year. There are many free options such as free homework coupons. These would entitle the student to skip a homework assignment and still receive full credit. A larger reward could be a free test pass, same concept as the homework pass, but something that can require more effort from the student or for them to complete multiple steps.

This should be a start to get you thinking in the right direction, start with these few ideas and make them your own! There are many templates and freebies online, I will look at some other things to consider in my next blog, don't want to overload you all at once!

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