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Gail S Hennessey's picture
Gail Skroback Hennessey taught for over 33 years, teaching sixth grade in all but two years. She earned a BA in early secondary education with a concentration in social studies and an MST in social...
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New School Year: Teaching A-Z

With the new year about to begin, I’d like to share my A–Z Teaching List. If you have suggestions, please share.

A–Z Teaching List

  1. Always exhibit an interest in what you are teaching. If you think it’s important, your students will, too. Have an assessment for how to grade your students.
  2. Be prepared with your lesson. Have “bell ringers" to keep students on task when you are collecting papers, etc. It’s better to have MORE than not enough for each day’s lesson.
  3. Try to make connections with other areas of study with cross-curricular activities whenever possible. Critique your lessons each day for what you liked and what needs improvement.
  4. Dress for success, your “teacher uniform"  should not be too casual. Decorate your room (It’s your “home away from home" for 7 hours each day). Don’t READ your notes . . . talk with the students.
  5. Establish expectations and a class climate which students will come to expect each class. Keep an “emergency folder" with activities for a couple of days which a sub can do should you be called away and not have time to leave detailed lesson plans. Make eye contact with your students.
  6. Try to focus on the positive each day. Negatives will only get you down. Fire drill procedures and emergency procedures should be learned immediately and reviewed with the students.
  7. Set up a grading system. How many grades will you give a week, what will the different assignments be weighed for importance, etc.
  8. Have consequences for students not meeting your requirements and follow through with parent telephone calls, after school or lunch detention, etc. Hang students’ work around the room. State and post your homework policy.
  9. Offer incentive especially for younger learners such as “praise" for good work, less homework passes, or bonus points, etc. REWARD positive behavior. Make sporadic “positive" telephone calls home. (Personal note: The initial voice of the parent was always suspect when I’d say I was their teacher calling. When I said I was calling to say how proud I was of their son/daughter for a particular reason and wanted to call, their tone changed. I had a number of parents contact the principal AFTER my call to say how the call had such a positive impact. The student was always walking on air the next day, too! I remember some students sharing they got a positive treat because of my phone call!)
  10. Just try your best and realize you won’t always have a successful lesson.
  11. Keep note paper in your desk (or thank-you notes) and distribute to students who show improvement, responsibility, citizenship, helpfulness, etc.
  12. Try and laugh each day!
  13. Menu" of what will be covered in the class. Write it on the board so students know what is to be covered. Mark your papers. If you give an assignment, look at what is done. (My feeling is students shouldn’t mark students’ work . . . that’s [in my opinion] your job. Peer review doesn’t count as I believe this can be a useful learning tool). Motivate your students by “acting"  and performing.
  14. Never be alone with a student (especially middle school and high school students)!
  15. Be organized. Keep folders of lessons developed and websites used so you have them for future reference.
  16. Use primary sources to help to enhance the lesson and foster DBQ essay writing. Gather personal information on each student (birthday, telephone, address, study buddy to send work if ill, etc.). Proofread any work that is distributed to students for spelling and grammar. Speak professionally.
  17. Ask lots of questions to keep your students on task.
  18. Review often all  terms and concepts throughout your unit. (Have the students HEAR, SEE, READ, and WRITE, more than one method to help retain materials covered in class.) Have a daily routine. How will you arrange your room?  What works best for the particular students, rows, groups, assigned seats, etc.? (Personally, I allow the students to sit with whom they’d like thus already finding “Friends" and allow them to stay where they selected unless they show that they can’t work well during class where they are sitting.) Create a rubric for student assessment.
  19. Share some personal self interests with your students (favorite color, favorite author, or sports team, etc.). I shared my ballerina picture from when I was 10 and my 6th grade report card. There was a photograph of my husband and my dogs on my desk. Set an example, for some, you may be their only positive role model! Smile (it’s a great stress reducer)! Shake hands with the students on the first day and during the school year.
  20. Ask experienced teachers for ideas on classroom management and other issues. Be open to suggestions.
  21. Use text to self connections whenever possible. Try and find a way for kids to see a connection with what is being taught and their lives.
  22. Have a variety of teaching styles and activities in your lesson.
  23. Wrap up each lesson by reviewing the key concepts, vocabulary, and any assignment to be given. Walk around the room during the presentation of your lesson. Have students write in journals, their notes (interactive notebooks), etc.
  24. Do “xtras" such as chaperoning a dance, going to a sporting event, having students come for lunch.
  25. You" set the tone of your classroom. Someone needs to be in charge of your classroom, make sure it is you!
  26. Get enough ZZZZZZZZZZ each night so you are well rested for the next day.

Gail Hennessey

Check out my website for teachers/kids and my Pinterest page for social studies resources.