4 Ways to Start the School Year Off Right

On your mark, get set, GO! The beginning of a new school year can seem like a mad dash to get organized, develop relationships with students, and start learning. However, the beginning of the school year is a significant time as it sets the foundation for every learning experience you share with your students throughout the year and must be approached with intentionality.

In this blog, we will discuss strategies for starting your school year off right, as well as tips for gaining student interest in a course and activities to make your first interaction with your students a positive one. Entering a new school year doesn’t have to feel like running a marathon as long as educators set themselves up for success and take time to sharpen their skills and reinvigorate their passion for education.

Brush Up on Your Pedagogy

No matter how long a person has been teaching, there’s always room for pedagogical improvement. Pedagogy is the science of the methods and practices of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept. Whether an educator is learning new theories, brushing up on the basics, or just adding a new technique to their arsenal, improving the way educators teach should be a recurring feature on every educator’s to-do list.

One of the best ways to improve pedagogical practices is by reflecting on what teaching practices worked last year and which ones didn’t. By doing this, educators are able to learn from past experiences to better future students’ learning experiences. Another means of improving pedagogical practices for educators is through professional development. Whether the professional development experience is in-person or virtual, professional development offers educators many benefits. Benefits include learning from fellow educational professionals, revisioning teaching methods and staying up to date on educational strategies and trends.  

Set Expectations

Nothing makes an educator’s job a little easier than a well-managed, respectful and productive classroom. Establishing classroom rules and procedures helps teachers maintain class routines and student expectations for classwork and behaviors. Classroom rules and procedures that are clearly defined and posted help students understand what is appropriate and what is not, as well as the consequences for rule violations. Clear classroom rules create a framework that provides choices to students and helps teach them to self-manage their classroom behaviors.

To introduce rules to students, start with the reasoning behind them. Let them know that the rules will keep them safe, make the classroom comfortable for everyone, and promote a healthy learning environment. Setting rules and expectations for students is fundamental to their academic development and the development of interpersonal skills necessary for self-management practices used in the workforce and everyday life.

Start Developing Positive Relationships

Before students can begin learning effectively at the beginning of the school year, they must adapt to their new learning environment and teacher. Positive first interactions with teachers are the first step in helping students adjust to their new environment and manage their feelings so that they can learn in class. Establish a great first impression with your students by first breaking the ice, getting to know them and allowing them to get to know you as their educator. Ice breaker activities are an easy, fun and effective way to allow your students to get to know you better and vice versa.

Read iCEV’s “Going back to School and Breaking the Ice” blog to download iCEV’s back-to-school guide and to view ice breaker activity ideas that will develop a fun and meaningful connection between educators and their students.

Motivate and Excite Students

The beginning of the year is an educator’s chance to set the tone for the rest of the school year. In the first few days or weeks of school, capture your student’s interest and excitement for the course they are in by sharing how they could use what they are learning outside the classroom and having an optimistic outlook when sharing course details. Students want and learn best from a teacher who is genuine and enthusiastic about the course they are in. Although it can sometimes be challenging to put on a happy face every second of the day, a positive attitude can significantly impact students’ success.

Motivation is a key facet of keeping student interest high through the duration of a course. Through varied pedagogical methods and practices educators have a much better chance of maintaining student interest and excitement in a course.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or doing unless it means effort,” For today’s educators, this quote remains true as the key to starting the school year off right is planning, investing in your skillset and reflecting on past teaching experiences. By taking these steps, educators are not only benefitting their personal career journey but the academic journeys of their students as well. To learn more about pedagogy and its importance in students’ learning experiences, stay tuned for more blogs and keep an eye on our social media platforms as we share valuable resources.


About the Author

JoshuaWitherspoon_WEBAfter serving as a Texas FFA state officer in 2018, Josh Witherspoon joined the iCEV team as a part-time employee for 3 years before taking on the role of content development specialist in 2022. Witherspoon holds a bachelor's degree in agricultural communications from Texas Tech University, in which his experience and proficiency in writing, marketing and CTE allow him to effectively communicate the successes of CTE educators and students and the value iCEV has to offer.