September can be a scary time of year if you are a newly qualified teacher (NQT) who is facing your own class, sometimes for the first time ever. This article suggests 5 simple ways to impact upon your new class

Here are some ideas to help make a positive impression as you meet your new classes.

1. Stand by the door as your class walks in. Smile, greet as many as you can and show that you have presence. As you get to know your class better, this is a great time to ask quick questions about homework, make positive comments about work you’ve marked since you last saw them, or pick up on uniform or behaviour issues. This will also help your pupils to feel secure and safe as they enter your space. Your smiles and pleasant demeanour will release serotonin in the brains of your students, and this aids neural interconncection and therefore learning.

2. Names – learn their names as quickly as possible, and use seating plans to begin with if it helps you. Not only will this help you manage behaviour, but it will also show that you are getting to know your pupils as individuals.

3. Enthusiasm – use your eyes and eyebrows to communicate this and try to keep a sparkle in your voice, even if you have a cold / hangover / baby that isn’t sleeping well (or all three!). NLP works on the principle that most communication is non-verbal, so the way you look can also affect the ‘state’ of the learner. Approximately 55% of a listener’s understanding and judgement are derived from your facial expressions.

4. Nerves – take the pressure off you by throwing the spotlight onto the pupils. Ask a question for a show of hands etc. Have a puzzle or short task ready on desks or on the board as this will give the early arrivals something to start on whilst you wait for the stragglers. This can also help manage conflict at the start of the lesson as you can have a quiet word with those who are late (or perhaps owe you some homework) without it being a spectator sport for the rest of the class.

5. Warm up your voice – speak louder than usual, vary the tone and pitch and over emphasise key words. Use a fast delivery speed to excite and energise a class, and slow down your speech to dramatise, emphasise and control.

Further reading:

Teaching for Success (Mark Fletcher)

The Teachers’ Toolkit (Paul Ginnis)

Secondary Teacher’s Pocketbook (Brin Best)

 This article first appeared in Teaching Expertise, July 2004.