At the start of the lesson ….
Be at the door of your classroom whenever possible in order to meet and greet students as they arrive, ensure that the area outside your classroom remains orderly and encourage students to enter the classroom or open learning space without delay. Do not line classes up at the door. However, if you are late to lesson, then it is appropriate for students to line up rather than to enter an unsupervised classroom. Try to speak and make eye contact with everyone; if this isn’t possible, try and do it with the “key players” in the class.
The starts of lessons are all about routines. Students need to feel safe and secure if they are to learn. You create this security for them by creating a learning environment in which they feel welcomed and valued, where the routines and expectations are consistent as well as fair. You must teach and display those expectations and routines. You must keep reminding them until their behaviour and approach become standard.
When students enter the classroom, ask that their planners and equipment are out and ready to use.
Have a seating plan for all classes which is non-negotiable. Change this, if appropriate, so that students get to speak, listen and work with other people. Sometimes it is useful to have the plan up on your whiteboard so that there is no excuse for argument or delay. Have a copy of the seating plan to give to your Subject Leader or Cover Supervisor if your lesson needs to be covered.
Have the lesson’s learning intentions and success criteria clearly displayed and in “student speak” as students enter the classroom (when possible), or at the beginning of the lesson.
When you are satisfied that the class is attentive, formally greet the students and introduce the hook/begin the starter activity.
Getting the start of the lesson going well is often the most difficult part of it. Students are often very good at using delay tactics that take you off the task of leading the learning. Learn to deal with interruptions effectively; have routines for equipment, new books, lost books etc. and do not be deflected from a brisk start. Know who your attention seekers are and give them attention for work and not behaviour.
As students get onto task, remember to acknowledge those who are doing as you have directed before you manage those who have yet to get on task. This sets a very positive tone to the lesson as well as reminding those who have yet to start what it is they must do. Positive reinforcement is very effective.
Remember, that as students get onto task, your priority is to “work the room”. You need to be moving around, acknowledging those students quickly to task and rewarding, then managing privately, those students not on task. As you circulate you should be sitting with groups of students to question, explain or stretch.
Deal with any latecomers when it least interrupts the lesson.