Tip 75: Walk Around Class
Walk around in the class when students are busy writing. The worst thing you can do is to sit too much at your desk. Of course, there are times that it’s appropriate, but you should regularly walk around the class and check up on your students.
This way they will know that you are monitoring them and they can ask you questions; you are there to help and give tips and advice, but the main idea behind it is to show the students that you are in control of their environment. You own your class, own the space, walk around your territory like a lion on patrol in the Serengeti*.
So, walk around your class and check up on the students. Otherwise, some naughty students will soon take advantage of the fact that you are not checking on them. Go up to the students and ask them questions. Get into their proximity so that they know that you are there and you are in charge.
* Where and what is the Serengeti? It’s in Tanzania and the equivalent of the giant Kruger Park in South Africa. As teachers, you should always expand your knowledge and that of your students.
Tip 76: Going on a Field Trip
Set the tone for the day if you go on a field trip. Discreetly let the students know that you are still the authority, even though it’s a different environment away from school.
Preparation for a field trip starts a week before the event by telling them what will be expected from them, laying down the rules right up to the start of the trip. Line them up and tell them that even though you’re going to a new place (maybe a museum, or a park), you are the authority. They must stay with you and should something happen, report anything immediately to you. Tell the students exactly what you expect from them and repeatedly remind them that you will be watching them and that there will be consequences if they act out of line.
76.1 Why trip procedures are important
The school much have rules and safety procedures in place. Make sure that you are properly mandated and operate within those parameters. It starts with getting permission letters from the parents; informing them in detail what the outing and the schedule will be, plus what will be expected from the students. A roll call list is very important and the students must regularly be checked. Make sure that you can give an account of all the students all the time.
Such precautionary measures are only appreciated by way of three tragic examples that I can immediately recall.
The biggest tragedy involving school children was the Sewol ferry disaster in 2014, when 325 South Korean students of Danwon High School went on a field trip to Jeju Island. The ferry, with 476 people on board, capsized and sank, claiming 299 victims, including 250 pupils.
In 2018 in South Africa, two boys from the grade 7 class of Marubeni Primary drowned while they were on a school outing to the beach in Port St Johns, South Africa. Three others were rescued from the sea.
In the third incident, an orientation bush camp for new Grade 8 students from Parktown Boys’ High School in January 2020 turned into a nightmare, court cases, the dismissal and later reinstatement of the principal when a 13-year-old boy went missing and drowned during a water activity with nobody noticing until hours later.
The necessity of regular roll-call cannot be over-emphasized. In some countries, field trips have become too much of a liability for schools.
Tip 77: Dealing with Difficult Parents
Master difficult parents early on. Form partnerships with them to work together. Teaching is a social career, you have to work with your students, with colleagues and you also have to work with the community and parents.
Sometimes there are some parents who are positively very involved and sometimes there are parents who are going to be difficult. Identify those parents early on and form a good, professional relationship with them from the beginning. Let them help you optimize their children’s learning. It’s important for you to have open communication with them, talk to them on parents’ evenings. Do not avoid them, but be proactive and invite them over. Talk to them on the phone and tell them that they can reach you by email or by phone or however you wish to be contacted.
So, remember that instead of avoiding difficult parents, it is very important to build a good relationship with all parents, especially their difficult ones.