With the new academic year arriving it is time to start thinking about the first lesson with those new classes. I wanted to share my first lesson with my mathematics classes but realised it will not be for everyone as we all have our own style and context. So here are a few options.
Some things to get out of the first lesson (don’t feel you have to hit all of them)
- Learn their names – if you trust them to write their real name go for name plates, otherwise have class photo list
- Share expectations – some teachers create a class rules list with the students
- Gather an idea of their ability – see below
- Set up systems – but make sure you stick to it from now on
- Explain the course (I personally never do this in the first lesson, relationships first)
This is the Answer, what could the question have been?
- Mini-whiteboards and pens
- Enthusiasm and Praise
As a mathematics teacher I want to use my first lesson to get to know the level and confidence of my class. So I use a simple idea, I put a number up on the board and challenge the students to create a question. The mini-whiteboards are best for this as it encourages them to try things out as they can always erase it and start again.
NOTE: nice opportunity to develop your expectations for use of mini-whiteboards if you intend to use them regularly. It is also a chance to show the class what happens if expectations are not met, something you will want to show first lesson.
- Do you wait until they all have an answer or not?
- No wobbling
- Walk around during the display time to make sure they don’t write anything on the back.
- Encourage them to look at each others and think about what they have written
For the first round they always do the same, lets say 36 was the answer (nice number to begin with!), you will see…
35+1, 37-1, 1+1+1+1+1+1+30 and so on
This is what I hope for as I can really ham up the “Is that your best mathematics on the board?” and start to challenge them to show me the highest level mathematics they know on the next one. So without fail the highest level mathematics they know is
1+10-7*2-4*9 (misconception alert!!!) and 36000000000000000 divided by 1000000000000000 and so on.
So we discuss whether more of the same calculations is higher level and by the end of the lesson and several rounds they are showing me their ability and I can go away and plan three or four lessons which they need based on the things they showed me.
NOTE: I have been teaching for ten years and the last six years at the same school so this does mean I do not have to work at the behaviour management as much as I used to so this might not be the lesson for a newly qualified teacher who wants to get their behaviour management off to the best start.
Contributions from other teachers