High School

A Young Teacher’s Guide To First Lessons In High School

Prior Preparation:

Below is detailed what I do in preparation for the very first lesson with each new class. It is very important that each class gets the impression that you are well organised and know what you are about. As we all know, first impressions tend to be lasting ones. A good first impression assists class discipline and allows the learning process to begin on the right note.

Therefore, I organise the following:

  • A class list as a period roll;
  • A starting activity;
  • A room plan for a seating plan if you are not using the alphabetical plan;
  • Work outlines for each student plus extras for students not on the roll;
  • An assessment schedule for each student;
  • A list of students with special needs;
  • A tote box with teaching needs including pencils;
  • Organise the room the way you need it for each class;
  • Texts books and other handouts for this lesson;
  • A plan for the whole lesson including an activity that all can do;
  • A short, fun activity at the end, if time permits;
  • Have a check list of all you need to do in the lesson and take to the lesson.

I check student record cards beforehand and make notes about any student’s issues. Make an effort to put a face to a name in the upcoming lesson using student photographs if they are available.

The Lesson:

Below is the sequence of activities I go through with my class in the very first lesson. Before I start, I make sure all the class can see me outside the room and I don’t give any instructions until I have their attention. Then I give instructions if necessary and invite them into the classroom, positioning myself just inside the door to watch.

So the sequence is:

Have students line up outside the room the way you want it done each day before you invite them in. With senior students, you might allow them to come in automatically as a privilege.

    • Watch students’ body language and gestures as they enter the room. Watch who sits where and with whom. Note those who sit in the back and front corners of the room. These could be your students with behaviour and learning problems.
    • Introduce yourself. Mark the roll welcoming each student as you go. Discuss the seating as being temporary only.
    • Discuss the work program, assessment schedule, homework expectations, expected behaviour, class rules, your goals for the class, your staff room and your availability for out of class help.
    • During roll marking, note student features (hair, distinguishing features and so on). Repeat their name when you welcome them to your class. Fill out your room plan if you are not using the alphabetical way.
    • When questions are asked by students, ask them to re-introduce themselves.
    • You may want to issue text books during this lesson. Have the students come to you one at a time to collect and sign for the text book. Have a long, easy to do activity that all can do while this happens.
    • Set homework on day one. It needs to be an activity that all are able to complete at least a part of.
    • Discuss what you want done in work pads/folders. You may like dates, text book references and so on.
    • Ask for any questions about the items covered in this first lesson.
    • Make sure all students have what they need from you. Refer to your check list.
    • Repeat homework and any special instructions for the next lesson.
    • Check that the students’ timetable and room allocations are the same as yours.
    • Tell them you are looking forward to a great year with them and wish them a great day.
    • Be available at the end of the lesson for further questions from the shy ones.
  • If possible and if necessary, take a photo of all students. This may be done next lesson. Check this is allowed by school policy. These photographs will help with discipline and getting to know the students quickly.

Some Concluding Remarks:

In some schools, lessons are of a short duration. Therefore, you may not get all these items done. Prioritise the list above, doing the most important ones in lesson one. It is important that, in that first lesson, you begin the teaching program and set some type of homework. This will give the students the impression that you are serious about what you teach and don’t want to waste any time getting started.


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