Teaching a Full Class at W@W
First day jitters are real for teachers too. Listen to Teacher Poh’s story of how she felt when she taught her very first full class at WR!TERS @ WORK.
Ba-dum, ba-dum. I opened the door to the classroom. Immediately, I felt all 11 pairs of curious eyes on me.
Ba-dum, ba-dum. I strode in, placed my belongings down at my seat, took out a marker and wrote my name on the board.
Ba-dum, ba-dum. I took a deep breath, “Good afternoon class, my name is Ms Poh, and I’m your new teacher.”
I flashed a bright, warm smile and stood my ground, trying my best to exude confidence. On the inside, however, I was nervous. Would they be able to accept me?
Starting a new class is nerve-wrecking, but inheriting a full one from a previous teacher (especially one that was well-liked) is even more so. Students’ expectations of “their teacher” have been set, and I would have to re-orientate them to learn my classroom rules, routines and standards. Furthermore, some students may have an allegiance towards their former teacher, and I will have to work hard to win them over.
Fortunately, my new students are a welcoming and energetic bunch. Some boys were a little shy, but on the whole, the class was chatty and inquisitive.
“Teacher, how old are you?”
“Ms Poh, will you be teaching us till the end of the year?”
“Teacher, you look like you’re the same age as my sister!”
Their excitement put me at ease, and I introduced myself to the students by sharing some interesting travel experiences I have had, such as parasailing and helmet diving in the Philippines and swimming with the dolphins in Indonesia, as well as my hobbies. That was my first step – building rapport with my students.
After setting the energy for the class, I stated my classroom rules and procedures, for example, showing respect by only having one speaker at a time. As I have had a trial lesson with these students before, I knew that this class of Primary 4 students were eager to participate in discussions, although they tended to digress, so I emphasised on how I wanted them to contribute intelligently by asking scholarly questions and answering questions thoughtfully.
Apart from building a good rapport with my students, I encouraged them to be enthusiastic during my lessons. The lesson for the day was about running a marathon for the first time, so I decided to do a short activity with the class.
“Everyone stand up, hold your breaths, and jump on the spot for a minute. The winner of this challenge will win a drink of their choice. I’ll be the judge,” I announced.
Caught off-guard by these strange instructions, the students initially got up hesitantly, but fuelled by the challenge and the prize, the class soon got into high spirits as each strived to be the last person standing. The activity was then linked back to the lesson by creating phrases on how the students physically felt during and after the challenge.
Two hours flew by, and before I knew it, my first full class had come to an end. The insightful experience was both exhilarating and satisfying – I was exhilarated that things had gone beyond my expectations, and satisfied that the students were comfortable with my style of teaching and me as a teacher. I learnt that the first lesson is the charm – setting the students’ impression of me and my expectations of the students are steps needed to build trust in the classroom. Even after that, teaching never gets easier; on the contrary, it takes consistent effort to keep the weekly classes interesting and engaging. However, if done right, the bond established with these students would be priceless, and we can scale greater heights together as a class.