Interviewer: Setting the tone from the very first day of school is the most important thing you can do as a teacher. The first thing that everyone needs to understand is that you are in charge of your classroom. The very best teachers—when you walk into their classroom—seems like the kids are totally in charge. They’re doing everything they wanna do all the time. That’s been set up by the teacher from the very first day of school.
Okay. Can I have your attention, please?
You have to set the tone before any child ever walks into your classroom.
Welcome to the first day of Algebra I. When you walk into the room, you need to do so quietly and without talking. I’ll say that one more time. Quietly and without talking.
When a kid walks into your classroom, they have to know what you expect, what you need them to do, and they need to be able to do it. Your expectations are what you allow them to do—not what you say, but what you allow them to do, so if you say, “Walk into the classroom quietly,” and they walk into the classroom and they’re quietly talking to each other, that’s what you expect them to do. Don’t go back later on and think, man, I wish they came in the classroom without talking at all. You didn’t expect that of them from the very first day of school.
If I see someone talking—even a whisper, even a giggle—we’re gonna stop, we’re gonna come back out, and we’re gonna practice it and try it again.
I’m telling them fro the start, and then I’m holding them to that. If they aren’t gonna do what I ask them to do, we’re going back out and we’re practicing, and we’re gonna do it over and over and over. I have had classes where I had to do it 15 times on the first day until they realized what my expectations were. Once they realized what they were, now I only have to do it twice or three times the next day, and then hopefully after that, we can only do it once.
Okay. When you walk through this door, it’s time to work. All right. Let’s make it happen.
When they walk in this classroom, it’s time to work.
Clap once. Clap once. Clap once.
We can goof around sometimes. We can have fun, but we’re gonna stop it whenever the teacher wants us to, and we’re gonna get back to work.
Clap twice. Simple as that. Let’s get to work.
But the key is get ‘em in, get ‘em in quickly, and set the expectation before the first class ever starts.