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OISE experts: 11 back to school tips for teachers

September 1, 2016

11 back to school tips for teachers by OISE’s leading experts

As thousands of students head back to the classroom, parents and teachers alike will be focused on ensuring students begin on the right foot. What’s equally important is ensuring teachers are also well-equipped and mentally prepared to tackle the new year.

So, here at OISE, we’ve tapped into some of our leading education experts for top back to school tips for teachers.  

If you’re a teacher, read below for how to help ensure you score a 10/10 as you head back into the classroom and look to mold the minds of future greatness!

Tips for teachers

1) Get to know your students
Get to know your students on an individual basis. Take the time to develop strong and respectful relationships with each of them. This will pay off down the road – whether in helping you understand their individual differences, resolving potential issues and establishing the trust necessary for a collaborative approach to student success.

2) Reflect diversity
Nurture a respectful and inclusive classroom culture. Teach, practice, and appreciate open-mindedness and awareness, explicitly demonstrating respect for many aspects of diversity, including race, ethnicity, socioeconomic situations, religion, gender, national origin, family composition, sexual orientation, physical/health or psychological difference, learning style, and political affiliation. Create an environment in which all students feel they are safe, equal and special and teach the importance of being active citizens who question and counter prejudice.

3) Respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Research the history of the land your school is located on. Help students develop a greater sense of the Indigenous peoples who once lived there and continue to live in the community. Educate yourself on Indigenous teachings and incorporate them into your classroom. This will help foster a sense of awareness, appreciation and understanding of Indigenous peoples.

4) Set professional learning goals
Determine a practice you want to get better at, be creative and take a risk. One example might be committing to improving classroom assessment by working to provide more timely and descriptive feedback to students.

5) Clean slate
Allow each student to begin anew. Do not judge little Jane and Jim for their indiscretions last term – give students the chance for a fresh start. And that goes for older, adult students too! And, on this note, don’t show favouritism! Each student should feel they have an equal chance to learn, grow and shine.

6) Be you!
Let your students see that you love what you do. Find out what they did over the summer and share some of your experiences. Did you go on vacation? Spend time at a cottage? Go to your son’s or daughter’s soccer tournament? Let them see who you are and the kind of interests you have. They’ll see you as not just a teacher, but a person too, which can bode well as you build your teacher/student relationship.


7) Enlist a ‘critical friend’
Identify a "critical friend" on staff who will both support and challenge your professional practice in productive ways. The added perspective will help you adjust your teaching practices to ensure you’re at your best.

8) Classroom management
Classroom management is a key ingredient for a smooth school year. Spending the first few weeks— or even month— reinforcing, in fun ways, rules and routines is paramount. Every rule created can be included under "Respect for Self & Others" – which cannot be emphasized enough!

9) Don’t be their friends!
This tip is especially important for new teachers: Establish positive relationships with your students, but don’t seek to be their friends. Attempting to have a friendship with your students is a recipe for loss of control!

10) Be flexible
It’s important to have lesson plans, but when unexpected teaching opportunities arise, take advantage of the moment. Let your students help drive your teaching! As well, teachers plan so much in a given day and often try to cover everything; in doing so, they stress themselves out, but more significantly, they stress out their students...leading to classroom management issues! It’s okay if your plan for the day shifts.

12) Self-care
Take care of YOU! Remember to live a healthy, balanced life full of exercise, nutrition, sleep and friends. Your health and happiness will show in the classroom and make for a happier, healthier environment too!

We hope these tips will serve you well as you begin the new school year. Feel free to share our top tips for students with those in your classes as well.

Good luck!

Special thanks to our OISE expert contributors: Richard Messina, Ann Lopez, Charles Pascal, Steven Katz, Doug McDougall & Genie Kim


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