Seven Things Students Want to Know

Am I in the right room? In order to help students find the right room quickly, I plan on using a roll sheet at the door, similar to checking reservations before seating guests at a restaurant or checking passengers onto an airplane. Once inside, the name of the class will be on the board (or the first slide of my PowerPoint presentation), and the third check will be when I actually take attendance on a tentative seating chart. Before we ever begin discussing our goals for the year, we will have triple accountability for the students being in the right room.

Where am I supposed to sit? On the first day of my first year teaching, I will instruct students to fill in the seats in an order dictated by the seating arrangement. If the classroom is made up of rows of desks, they will fill in the first row first. If there are tables or lab benches with chairs all around them, I may ask students to fill in the front-facing chairs first. The terrain will dictate the first day, and I will reserve the right to rearrange students based on my observations over the next few weeks.

What are the rules in this classroom? Expectations for classroom conduct will be posted on the bulletin board, a handout will be given to each student, and a letter will be sent to each set of parents to be signed and returned. As a class, we will go over the rules, consequences for violations, and the rationale behind each of them within the first week of class.

What will I be doing this year? Within the first few days of class, students will have classroom procedures explained to them. They will be shown what is expected of them in terms of homework, testing, field and lab work, and any procedures related to the equipment being used (microscopes, glassware, chemicals). We will go over the processes for completing projects, cleaning up workstations, checking equipment in and out, and turning assignments in when they are due.

How will I be graded? Each student’s grade will reflect that student’s own quality of work. Expectations for each assignment will be explained when it is assigned, and partial credit will be assessed based on the merits of the student’s work. The overall breakdown of the grade will include homework, exams and quizzes, projects, and class participation. Extra credit opportunities will be provided throughout the year, and such opportunities will be available to all students, regardless of ability.

Who is the teacher as a person? I will introduce myself each day during the first week of school, including different interests and hobbies every day. I will share these interests after the class completes an autobiographical writing assignment. In this way, students may relate to their biology teacher through shared interests.

Will the teacher treat me as a human being? I will treat every student with respect, and I will enforce the expectation that they treat one another with respect at all times in my classroom. Disrespecting one another will be treated as open defiance toward the teacher, and as such, will not be tolerated.