19 Aug '13

News How to teach … a new class

This week, the Guardian Teacher Network focuses on resources to help NQTs with their first classes in September

NQTs across the land will be anticipating their first-ever class and the Guardian Teacher Network has resources to help smooth the journey, many of which will also be useful for more experienced teachers.

Let's start with some ideas on behaviour management shared by Paul Dix: "Positive ways to manage behaviour" is a mine of information on how to get things right for a new class, or indeed any class. You can also download Pivotal Education's free Pocket Behaviour Trainer app – ideal for PGCE and NQTs, but with plenty to offer teachers of all levels of experience.

If your class seems rather noisy and challenging after the summer holidays, then check out 25 ways to get silence from a noisy group. Thanks to Rob Plevin from behaviourneeds.com for sharing his tips and novel strategies, including going Full Metal Jacket with "Sir, Yes Sir!", to the downright sneaky Secet Agent technique.

Are your new students asking so many questions that they are actually disrupting learning? If this is becoming a problem, check out Question Tokens, a great idea shared by maths teacher Mel Muldowney who gives students one token per lesson and they have to choose when to use it (or not) – the plan is to encourage students to think for themselves, and think twice before asking a question. It's really ideal to use with new classes at the start of the year, but equally useful for most subjects and age groups.

Thanks also to primary school teacher Mike Mottershaw for sharing his Passport to a new year, in which students can share information on their friends, family, likes and dislikes. The resource includes some target-setting for the new school year and a simple induction activity for the first week. This welcome display provides a lovely positive message for any primary classroom.

Students can be overwhelmed by new classes at first, especially year 7s. Film Club has shared a resource to ease the transition, with great film ideas, activities and games.

Wonder by RJ Palacio is required reading for everyone nervous about starting a new class and making friends – here is a teachers' guide to the book that explains more about Auggie, an ordinary kid born with a terrible facial abnormality, and follows his first year at Beecher Prep.

Mike Gershon has shared some of the most popular resources on the Guardian Teacher Network that will have particular resonance for a new teacher of a new class. Devour Plenaries on a Plate, which can be used in almost any subject and across the key stages – a great aid to lesson planning. Also see Mike Gershon's Challenge Toolkit, which provides 50 different activities to stretch and extend students' thinking and push all students to think more critically and creatively whatever they are studying, and The Starter Generator.

Another must-have is the Assessment for Learning (AfL) Toolkit, which contains 70 different activities, ideas and tools based around assessment for learning. This is easy to navigate and promises to help you become an AfL master.

Thanks also to Jenny Moseley for sharing new class gold dust in the form of Golden Rules, which contains some great ideas on how to embed good behaviour in a new classroom, and check out the Golden Rules story activity. Sleepy class? Get everyone focused with some great clapping games.

You will struggle to find an icebreaker more delicious than Mindfulness and the art of chocolate eating – what a creative way to bring focus, calm and thoughtfulness to your class. For more mindfulness, find this relaxation script or, longer term, this 21-day class plan on introducing mindfulness to your class in just three minutes a day.

Never underestimate the power of a great seating plan to play to students' strengths in terms of visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning styles and to counter distance decay (AKA those students who hide at the back). Thinking through your seating plan contains some excellent ideas and observations.

Some useful ideas on how to cope with students of different abilities in the class have been shared by Matt Grant, the teacher behind www.humansnotrobots.co.uk. Find A quick introduction to differentiation and this excellent guide to being Dyslexia friendly.

Good luck to everyone who starts with a new class this term. If you have any resources to share, please do so on the Guardian Teacher Network, where you will also find some inciteful peer-to-peer blogs and advice.

Join the Guardian Teacher Network community for free access to teaching resources and an opportunity to share your own as well as read and comment on blogs. There are also thousands of teaching, leadership and support jobs on the site. Visit http://jobs.guardian.co.uk/schools.

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