There will be a lot of people who disagree with me-and that is okay. Different things work for different teachers. This is how I establish authority and style in my classroom. The number one way to catch and maintain authority in the classroom-is to prank the students on the first day of class.
Now, hear me out. I've tried it your way.
"Hi, I'm your teacher for Intermediate Algebra this semester. Please take a syllabus and pass the rest back. I expect you to read this in your own time. Lesson 1...."
Three minutes into it and they start asking if I really am the teacher.
"Are you old enough to teach this class?"
Nope. I'm not doing it that way again. I let 'em sit there.
It's 8:55 and the teacher isn't here yet.
It's 8:59 and the teacher isn't here yet.
They know they can leave if the teacher is 10 minutes late and not be penalized.
It's 9:05 and the teacher isn't here yet. They've started murmuring.
The lady on the second row, 1 from the right is wearing a red shirt and is telling the person to her right about how she isn't sure about taking this class, working full time, and raising two kids. Serious, but overwhelmed student noted.
It's 9:07 and the teacher isn't here yet.
The guy to my left has just told me how he has cheated through all of his classes-and has told me how to not get caught. He's going to regret that. Potential problem student noted.
A student in the front row, far left seat is concerned that the teacher may be sick. Kind student noted.
It's 9:09 and the teacher isn't here yet.
A student to my right is taking a lot of hours and is worried about passing all of his classes.
I stand up, walk to the front of the class, turn to face my students and say, "Welcome to Intermediate Algebra. I'm Mrs. CoScine and I'll be teaching you this course."
A pen drops.
Silence envelops the class along with eyes shifting in disbelief, searching for validation from their peers.
"No Way. Are you really the teacher?"
"You better believe it. Keep this day in mind if you try to pull something over on me later in the semester. I know some of you are stressed about this class, some are worried about financial aid, and much more. But, I'll work with you so we can get through this semester together. "
Giggles usually erupt. I pass out the syllabi. And everyone leaves my class with a great story and they can't wait to see what I'll teach them next time.
What did they learn this time? Don't judge a book by its cover. They know only the teacher would have enough guts to do that on the first day of class. They know, I know a good bit about them now. In ten minutes, I got the whole classroom's undivided attention, their absolute interest in my class, and most importantly, they can't wait to see what I'll teach them tomorrow.
Wait. You probably want to know about the guy who confessed all the cheating strategies to me, right? He transferred to another professor. Never saw him again.
I really learn a lot about my students this way. If I know their struggles from day one, I can help them out as individuals and as a class. Plus, they have never questioned my authority running my class this way. They knew if I was crazy enough to pull that on them, they respected that. Just introducing myself the typical way, they would always question my authority and ask if I "really was the teacher." I'd rather they question the world of math.
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Hi! I'm CoScine Creative. I have developed and run a tutoring center at a small college. I also teach some of their algebra and chemistry courses. And I will neither confirm nor deny pranking my students by pretending to be one.