So here we are again, ready to start a new school year, in volatile times, not aware if we are to continue in our classrooms or whether we will remain at home and teach (and our students and pupils hopefully learn) through various applications online, synchronously or asynchronously, or even if what lies ahead is a combination of contact teaching and of the online sort.
There are however some DOs (we must always be positive, the human brain refuses to record negatives) that apply to any of these circumstances. And here are some:
First and foremost, be prepared. BEFORE you meet your learners, make sure you have all the materials you need, physical or digital. Checklist: Have I got the books that I will use? Do I have a good internet connection (just in case the year, or its beginning, at least, begins online). My markers, etc? Have I visited my classroom, seen the seating arrangement, made plans to change it according to my teaching procedure through the year (Π for presentations, “islets” of desks for group work, etc.)? How many students do I expect for each class, their ages, gender? If any of the books I will use is new, have I familiarized myself with it and its components (CD, etc.)? All this needs to be clear BEFORE Day 1.
On this day, go into the classroom, full of knowledge and confidence and goodwill and a positive frame of mind, both towards your children (whatever their age, they are always children to a teacher ) and yourself. And get to know them. Keep in mind that THEY are the malleable material that you are to develop throughout this year and thus have an impact on them for years to come. REALLY get to know them on this first day. Introduce yourself briefly and let them introduce themselves in the same way but allow them more time if they are not that brief and just let them be if they are laconic. Give them TIME and SPACE to grow. Also, give them AIR to breathe (allow them to realize they are free with you, that you are approachable) and FOOD (actually teach something on Day1, so that they go home feeling content that the year ahead will be both enjoyable and fruitful.
And if you already know them, get to know them again, they grow and grow up so fast and so much between the last time you met them and today, Day 1
Smile. Be positive. Criticise action, not character. Explain, that they are not stupid or slow, they just still lack the knowledge. And, yes, of course, use first names and let them call you Mr or Ms (Miss/Mrs) +your first name. The classroom is a second home.
The general rule is that the first day in class is crucial for the whole year, September to June and that this day will make a difference in your life and that of your students. Make sure you make it matter and you will bear the fruit.
All in all, always bear in mind that they look up to you both as an adult and as a teacher. They are children (whatever their age) and they expect and deserve to enjoy themselves and learn. And you are the facilitator for both.