New year, new school, new class

Rob Forsyth is an experienced ethics teacher who this year moved to a new school. His thoughts on starting afresh will be helpful to completely new teachers and those starting the year with a new class.

We all know that the first day at school can be a stressful experience for children, but of course, it can also be stressful for new Ethics teachers.  The items I’ve found that disturb my sleep the night before include, but are not limited to:

  • Can I be sure that I have all the appropriate material after extracting it from Evie [the Primary Ethics volunteer portal]?
  • What will the classroom set-up be like?
  • What will professionally trained teachers think of my amateur delivery of the lesson?
  • Even simple things like, if I need to use a bathroom, which bathroom should I use?
  • Will the children enjoy Ethics?

I’m sure we all have these butterflies.

Sign-in at schools always takes time, so be early. I have always found teachers (and principals) very helpful and keen to offer assistance in set-up and disruptive class behaviour. The teachers know the children well and are familiar with specific ‘enthusiastic’ individuals and will be there to assist if required. A semicircle of chairs works best for me, with sufficient space but not too far away, as children speak softly and we want everyone to be heard.

Before you start, perhaps engage in a conversation with a few students and that will assist in breaking the ice, this will allow you to start a roll call in a casual manner.

Remember to breathe, the children will be keen to listen, so speak slowly. As you get into the substance of the lesson, check the time as you will discover that the period will fly by.

At the conclusion, I find it good to ask the class teacher if they wish to say anything and this will allow the lesson to be completed in a way that is familiar to the students.  In some classes, you may be asked to nominate a student who has been a good contributor, I generally congratulate the whole class in the first lesson – so everyone’s a winner, including you!