Of the many items on your first-day-of-school checklist, three promises should go at the very top.
Because, together, they have the power to set a tone of kindness and good behavior that lasts for the entire school year.
They also make you instantly likeable and establish you as a leader worth following.
They ensure your consistency and integrity.
They set you apart from every teacher your students have ever had.
It’s remarkable stuff. But it’s real, and it works for every teacher committed to doing what they say they will.
The promises should be delivered with boldness and sincerity and within the first 20 minutes of meeting your new class.
They are as follows:
1. “I promise to treat you with respect.”
After a lengthy pause, define what this looks like in practical terms.
Depending on your grade level, it may include how you’ll never raise your voice in anger or how you’ll never threaten, scold, or manipulate or how you’ll never use sarcasm or cut down to size.
Explain that no matter how many times they mess up or make mistakes, you’ll always be happy to see them, share a joke with them, and help them become the best students they can be.
2. “I promise to listen to you and take care of any problems you’re having here at school.”
You’ll then describe how if they’re being bullied, teased, or made fun of, or subject to any force keeping them from enjoying school, you’ll step in and fix it.
You’ll do everything in your power to ensure that they have the same opportunity as every other student to work together, make friends, and develop a love of school.
3. “I promise to follow our classroom management plan exactly as it’s written.”
This is the ultimate promise that protects their right to learn and enjoy school. Thus, you must frame everything you say about why you’re so faithful to it in these terms.
You see, it’s about them. It’s about how your classroom management plan benefits them, the class as a whole, and the universal desire to be part of something special and bigger than themselves.
It frees them, and you, to bask in a learning environment they can’t wait to get to every day.
A Statement Of Belief
By making and then keeping the promises above, you effectively eliminate the three primary causes of student angst, unhappiness, and misbehavior.
You gain trust and put your new students at ease.
You draw them eagerly into your corner and cause them to be both relieved and thrilled to be in your class.
You also put yourself on record—and your reputation on the line—which exerts just enough pressure to ensure your consistent follow through.
It will fill you with a deep sense of responsibility and a mama bear’s desire to protect, defend, and care for your students like never before.
The promises are a statement of belief—in yourself, in them, and in the transformational power of great teaching.
And it happens within 20 minutes of the first day of school.
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