Starting the Year Off…Hard or Soft?

Starting the Year Off…Hard or Soft?

by Dr. Will Henson

It’s time to meet this year’s group of students.  How do you start the year off right?  Some say you start with a softer, relational approach, get to know students and then lay down the law. Some say you start off hard, and let kids know you aren’t messing around.  So, who is right?   Well,  the answer is neither.  It’s just as bad to be too soft as it is to be too hard.

Here are three things you need to know to set the year off right:

  1. Make your expectations clear: From the start, let the students know what you expect out of them.  Don’t wait until they mess up and you have to correct them.   Start by explaining your expectations, and post them so everyone can see them.  Your expectations should show kids how to be successful – not a list of don’ts.
  2. Strive for Calm, Centered, and Confident: You want to be relational, safe and approachable, at the same time not be a push-over.  The recipe for this is to be calm and centered and confident:
    i.  C
    alm in both your words and your non-verbal signals
    ii.  Centered – meaning you are not easily thrown off by things kids do or say.  Your job is to manage the tone and energy of the classroom.
    iii.  Confident – you project that you know what you are doing and can handle any situation.
  3. Get to know your kids: Some kids are easy to get to know, because they make their presence known (in many different ways).  Make sure you get to know everyone – the quiet kids, the compliant kids and even the ones that try to shut you out.

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