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Julia G Thompson | @TeacherAdvice

Julia G Thompson | @TeacherAdvice

Julia G. Thompson received her BA in English from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg. She has been a teacher in the public schools of Virginia, Arizona, and North Carolina for more than thirty-five years. Thompson currently teaches in Fairfax County, Virginia, where she is an active speaker and consultant. Author of Discipline Survival Guide for the Secondary Teacher, First-Year Teacher’s Checklist, The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide, and The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide Professional Development Training Kit, Thompson also provides advice on a variety of subjects through her Web site, www.juliagthompson.com; on her blog, juliagthompson.blogspot.com; and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TeacherAdvice. Her online course, Survival Skills for New Teachers, will be available at https://youtu.be/Aq2aSpne0aQ .

Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

It is important for teachers to make it easy for their students to work well together—an undertaking requiring diplomacy as well as dedicated effort. Social inclusion is such a vital aspect of any student’s life that the effort often results in beneficial dividends. What are some of the most common barriers to social acceptance in school? Many students could feel excluded because they do not know their classmates. It is a mistake to assume that students know each other well. Even students who have attended school together for several years may not know much about their classmates.

Another barrier is that your students may live in different neighborhoods. If you teach in a school where students may live at a distance or come from very diverse neighborhoods, it is likely that they have not had many opportunities to interact with each other outside of school.

In addition, students who have not been taught how to behave courteously or who have not learned socially acceptable ways to resolve conflict often struggle to form appropriate relationships with their peers.

Perhaps the greatest barrier that you will have to help your students overcome is the perception that they may not have much in common with a classmate whom they do not know well. With effort and persistence, you can assist students in learning to recognize their commonalities so that they can learn to accept and support each other. Use the tips in the list that follows to guide you as you work to help students remove the barriers to peer acceptance.

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Posted by on in Classroom Management

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1. Be moderate in your approach. You do not have to be the world’s best teacher all the time. You just have to be a very good one.

2. Spend your energy on large problems first and allot less of your energy for the small ones. Choose to deal with the problems that will give you the greatest benefit right away.

3. Problems can move you forward when you choose to work to solve them. Use your creative strengths to make your classroom well-disciplined and productive.

4. Make room for more emotional energy. Ask for help when you have a problem.

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Posted by on in What If?

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At its most fundamental level, a classroom community will be defined by the commonalities that students share, the presence of courteous behavior, and appropriate ways to solve conflicts. These positive relationships all pave the way for a united classroom where students can thrive instead of simmer in various types of disruptive conflicts.

When students can focus on what they have in common, many of the barriers to acceptance and tolerance will disappear. With effort and persistence, you can assist students in learning to recognize their commonalities. Use the tips in the list below to guide you as you work to help students learn to see what they have in common rather focus on the things that divide them.

Make sure that each student’s strengths are well-known to the rest of the class.

If a student has an unpleasant history of failure or misbehavior, make it clear that it is time for a fresh start.

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Posted by on in What If?


One of the most common misconceptions that many teachers can have about their classes is that their students already know each other well. This mistake is understandable. Some students may be acquainted, especially if they have been in the same classrooms in previous grades or if they live in the same neighborhoods. However, students do grow, mature, and change, and often their classmates’ outdated perceptions of them are no longer valid.

To build the classroom community that you want for your students, it is necessary to help them learn to relate to each other in positive and school-appropriate ways. The relationships that will exist among the different students in your class will be dependent on how well they know each other and how they can use that knowledge to treat each other with mutual courtesy and respect. In the list below, you will find several quick activities to help your students learn more about each other and eventually develop the positive working relationships that are a cornerstone of a classroom community.

Have your students group themselves according to commonalities such as eye color, birthday months, hobbies, skills, and favorite foods, music, or sports teams.

Have students work with a partner, telling that person one thing that they can do well and one thing that they would like to learn how to do.

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Posted by on in What If?


In this excerpt from The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide, you’ll learn the significant impact that the daily interactions that you have with your students can have on the classroom community that you want to establish. Using classroom immediacy to create a positive relationship with each student is one of the most successful approaches that you can take to relate well to all students on an individual level as well as to the group as a whole.

“Classroom immediacy is a broad term that refers to the different ways that teachers can lessen the emotional distance between themselves and their students. Behaviors that create classroom immediacy tend to engender positive attitudes in students because they believe that their teachers like them. And it’s only common sense that students will be much more willing to cooperate with those teachers who clearly like them and are interested in their welfare. Let your actions reveal that you are a teacher who is approachable and enthusiastic about your students. Although there are many, many different ways to relate well in a classroom, in the list that follows you will find ways to create a sense of immediacy and connectedness with your students that you can adapt to fit your needs.

Don’t forget that the class is about your students and not about you. Be careful not to overpower your students with your knowledge or authority. Instead, be gentle and inclusive in your approach.

Smile. As simple as it may seem, this is one of the most important ways that you can relate well to your students.

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