Back to School: High School Teacher Preparation
Teachers generally feel that they barely have time to take a deep breath during summer break before it is time to go back to school. High school teacher preparation for the first day of the term is important for new teachers and veterans alike.
The first day of school sets the tone for the entire school year. The better prepared a teacher is for the first day of school, the more successful the second day and all successive days will be.
Successful teachers generally make a checklist of things they want to prepare for and do prior to the first day of school.
Suggestions for the first day of school
- Be sure the physical environment is welcoming. Have supplies put away, books properly shelved and bulletin boards and wall hangings in place. Arrange the tables or desks in an attractive and efficient way.
- Do a dry run of any technological devices, such as computers, that students will be using in the classroom. If any are not working, submit a repair request immediately so that everything will be in working order on the first day of school. Add any new software or any upgrades to already installed software.
- Review any advancement in technology that may be used by the students in completing their assignments.
- Find new websites that may assist in making lesson plans.
- Plan, plan, and plan the first lesson for the first day. Have more planned than you expect to accomplish. The first day of back to school is not a time to have minutes left over at the end of the class while you fumble for something to fill the time.
- First day activities usually include handing out a syllabus with the class schedule including when assignments are due as well as get-acquainted activities. Be sure to have extra copies available of all hand-outs just to be extra prepared.
- Decide how to handle class rules. Will rules be posted on the wall for students to see on the first day? Or, will the class put together rules by discussing behaviors and consequences during class and making their own list?
- Determine whether students will be allowed to choose their own seats. If not, have the seating chart prepared with instructions to the students as to how to find their seats.
- Rehearse. Even seasoned teachers say that a rehearsal of the first day greetings, comments and activities is a key to a successful first day.
To review or not review student files
There is controversy over whether teachers should review student files before the first day of school. Some teachers believe it is important to spend time reviewing the files before meeting the students. The idea is that a review can help teachers identify any learning challenges a student may face, or if there are any potential behavior problems.
Other teachers do not want any information about a student prior to the first day. They want to give the students a fresh start with no preconceived ideas about a student’s abilities or behavior problems. Teachers must decide for themselves which approach works for them.
- On the first day back to school, dress professionally. Upgrade from usual school wear during the first week in order to set the professional tone of the classroom.
- Greet students at the door when they enter the classroom, shake their hands and make them feel welcome.
All educators agree that the first day is the most important day of the school year. Prepared teachers who are in control of their classrooms set the scene for the entire school year. Prepared teachers can also inspire confidence in students who can immediately sense who is in charge and how the school year is likely to proceed.