Well, school is starting up again, and soon each teacher will be standing in front of a classroom-full of students anxious to get the year started.
The first few days is when teachers get to see what kind of students they’ll have. Within a couple of days (sometimes a couple of hours), teachers will be able to identify the students who will be the more, let’s just say, challenging. You veteran teachers know what I’m talking about.
At the same time, students will spend the first few days sizing up their new teacher. What kind of teacher will he/she be? Will he/she be mean? Approachable? Nice? Will he/she give a lot of homework? Will I like this teacher? These are questions that students will be asking themselves as they come into class on that first day.
I knew that the students sitting in my class were a little nervous, maybe even a little afraid on that first day. I don’t smile a lot, and I’ve been told that I look angry most of the time. (I’ve been working on that, however.)
So I made it a point to spend some time telling them about myself and what they could expect from me in the coming year.
Students need to know right away what kind of teacher you are.
They need to know what your expectations are of them and what they can expect from you.
I came up with a list of 10 promises that a teacher can make to their students on that first day (or second day) that will help describe what kind of teacher they are.
I believe making (and keeping) these promises will be the first step in making a connection with students that will pay off all year long.
Here you go:
10 Amazing Teacher Promises
1. I promise to show you respect.
You can’t just leave it there. Respect is such a big word. You have to tell the students that by showing respect, you won’t humiliate them in front of the class. You won’t use sarcasm in the class that can be perceived as demeaning. You will listen to them with your eyes. (You know what I mean.) You are going to have to use specific examples as you explain this promise.
2. I promise to spend a lot of time creating lesson plans that are informative and interesting.
Amazing teachers will take time on lesson planning. Teaching out of the textbook doesn’t take too much effort. I gave bookwork to my substitutes to hand out. Let students know that you will be spending time to create lessons that are going to benefit them. Believe it or not, they will appreciate your efforts – well most of them will.
3. I promise to be in a good mood every day.
I know what you’re saying, “Sam, there is no way I can keep this promise. Sometimes bad stuff happens on the way to work, at home, in the lunch room, etc.” We can’t bring our negative experiences into the classroom. That’s not fair to the kids. Amazing teachers are in a good mood every day – even if they have to fake it.
4. I promise to expect only the best from you.
Here’s where you talk about holding them accountable for turning in their homework and giving their full effort on assignments. You are promising to not letting them get away with less than their best.
5. I promise to forget yesterday’s poor choices.
Students are going to make mistakes. They’re going to get in trouble. You’ll have to give them consequences for their poor choices. Amazing teachers give each student a fresh start every day. What happened yesterday is forgotten.
6. I promise to keep learning how to better teach the class.
Amazing teachers don’t stop learning and looking for new ideas. This is a great promise to make to the students. You’re telling them that you care enough for them that you’re willing to look for new ways to teach them.
7. I promise to keep your parents updated on your progress in my class.
Your students might not like this promise, but it’s an important one. Amazing teachers communicate on a consistent basis with parents. You can send progress reports home every three weeks. You can email or call parents randomly. Students who are struggling need more parent contact than others, but this is definitely a promise that teachers need to keep. I know it’s time consuming, but amazing teachers make the time.
8. I promise to provide extra help before school, after school, or during lunch.
Again, it’s about making time for students.
9. I promise to not give up on you.
You would be amazed how important this is to some students. Let your students know that no matter what happens, no matter what mistake they may make, no matter who else turns their back on them – they can count on you to be there for them.
10. I promise to do everything I can to make this your best year ever.
Can you really say this? Yes! Notice that the focus is on the students. Many teachers start the school year asking themselves, “I wonder what kind of year I’m going to have this year.” I found that when you work toward making the students have a great year, you will in turn have a great year.
After sharing these promises with the students, I would make it an activity. I’d have them pull out a sheet of paper and write down at least three promises that they can make to you, the teacher. I would collect them, read them, and make a small comment on each student’s paper. It will take a couple of hours, but I guarantee it will be worth it.
It’s important that you do your best to keep each of these promises. If you don’t, trust me, the students will remind you. If you come into class grumpy, they’ll tell you that you promised to be in a good mood every day. You’ll have to smile and apologize.
I hope you can make these promises to your students this year. If you do, please let me know how it went. How did the student react? What were the promises that they made to you?
Check out the video:
I’ve created a printable PDF version of the promises that you can download and use in your classroom. Click here to download the PDF version.
Until next time,
Here’s to your Success in the Classroom!
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I struggle with #3. When things are really rough in the world outside my classroom, and keeping that “always in a good mood” piece just doesn’t seem do-able, I am honest with my students, and let them know that my patience might be a wee bit frayed on a particular day. There seems to be a mutual respect there, and gives them the freedom to let me know when they’re having that kind of day, too.
Hi Lisa, I struggle with staying in a good mood every day also. Kids are great. They’ll want to do everything they can to make you feel better. It’s still not fair to lessen their experience because we’re not feeling our best. We control the thermostat in our classrooms – both literally and figuratively. We are the most important element in determining the atmosphere of the classroom. I wonder how realistic it is to keep this promise, but we need to do our best to try.
Thank you for your comment.
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