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The First Days of School: How to be an Effective Teacher

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     The First Days of School: How to be an Effective Teacher was one of the best books I have read on being a successful as a teacher.  This book provides a lot of guidance to new teachers, but the information presented is also useful for experienced teachers who need to make some changes in the way they manage their classrooms.

     I learned the importance of having positive expectations.  Teachers should create a positive classroom environment through their attitudes, behaviors, and manners of dress.  I never thought that the way a teacher dresses affects the students, but I learned from this book that it does.  If the teacher dresses professionally he or she sends the message to students that education is serious business, and that the students are important to the teacher.  Also, another important lesson I learned is that teachers need to plan for good classroom management in advance and need to practice the rules and classroom procedures with the students until they become a habit.  Students are happier in classrooms where there is order and they know what the teacher expects.   Teachers need to have effective and efficient classroom systems in place.  If they do, then they will have less disciplined problems, and more successful students.

     Additionally, I learned how to help the students be successful when working together in groups.  When students work in groups this teaches them a lot of social skills like teamwork and good listening habits.  This book also provides effective strategies for getting students to work cooperatively.   This process starts at the beginning of the school year.  The teacher has to have many variables in place before trying to begin cooperative group assignments.  The author provides a checklist titled Factors of Success, which should be used to help teachers determine if their classes are ready to begin group work.  Group work should not be implemented if the classroom environment is not conducive to it.  For example, are the classroom routines and procedures in place and effective?  Is an effective discipline plan in place?

     I like how this book helps teachers prepare in advance for the start of the school year, and continues to guide teachers throughout the school year.  I also appreciate how the book stresses the importance of professional development for teachers.  It reminds us that education is a life-long process for all of us, and that teachers must continue to learn and grow in order to continue being effective in the classroom.

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