The First Few Weeks

The first two or three weeks will set the stage for the rest of the year. Management problems here will haunt you for months. On the other hand, a skillfully managed first few days prevents behavior problems that would otherwise have surfaced weeks later. If you have allowed the class to become too noisy, or tolerated rude remarks, or overlooked interruptions during discussions, or put up with tardiness, it will only get worse as time goes on. In the absence of clearly defined limits, students will take more and more liberties until you have “reached the end of your rope.”

Although most teachers probably interpret the phrase “classroom management” to mean control of misbehavior, it actually begins with your lesson plan. If your plan is not organized, your directions unclear, or the material too difficult, you are inviting discipline problems. So, it is especially important in these first weeks that you are well prepared for each class. Also, it is essential that you begin each class in a businesslike manner. When the clock strikes the first minute of the period, you must be ready and the students silent. A disorderly beginning is hardly an appropriate foundation for an effective lesson plan. Only when this prerequisite is met can you begin to establish acceptable conduct.

Rather than repeat it here, it will be useful to review the recommendations in Chapter 1, “The First Day.” If the first two or three weeks are so important, the first day is even more so. What follows is a discussion of how to make the transition from that first day or few days to an easygoing, relaxed and well-behaved class. Unfortunately, many teachers think they can make the transition by simply overlooking minor problems.

Go to “Correcting Students

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