Getting a class off to a good start is important; this sets the stage for the day’s learning activities. Beginning well sets the tone for the classroom and helps students know what to expect. It is one way that you can reinforce a sense of structure and consistency and communicate that the classroom is a place for learning. Do not spend the first part of class simply taking attendance, passing out completed assignments, making announcements and dealing with other administrative tasks. Obviously determining who is present and who is absent is important, but to make the most of students’ learning time—and your own time—you might start the day by giving students an opportunity to set their own learning goals for the day based on overall goals you have established.
Brain research shows that the most effective time for student learning is during the first few minutes of the class when the students’ attention is at its greatest. If you fail to get the students’ attention during this period, you may lose them for the rest of the class. For learning to be effective, you have to make them aware of their learning goals at the beginning of the lesson.
There are several ways you can establish the learning goals for the day:
(1) List out the key goals on the whiteboard
(2) Call on a couple of students at different ends of the classroom to repeat your explanation of the lesson objective(s)
(3) Use humor and other friendly exchanges to make the students feel comfortable because then they will learn better.
Other ways to grab the students’ attention is by starting the class with:
- A video clip, song snippet
- A cartoon or a joke
- Puzzles, riddles
- Pictures and literature
- Card games/ board games
How you grab the students’ attention varies depending on the subject you are teaching. Here are some examples:
a) History – History teachers can begin with current events, a political cartoon or a divisive statement about history.
Example: Is Subash Chandra Bose still alive?
b) Geography – asking riddles/ puzzles
1. What is the longest rope in the world? Ans: Europe 2. Where do you find roads without vehicles, forests without trees, and cities without houses? Ans: Map
c) What is Politics? – Funny Cartoon Pictures
a.) Look at my face and you see somebody. Look at my back and you see nobody. Who am I?
b.) The _______ of an elephant is as big as an elephant, looks like an elephant, but has no weight?
c.) The flash runs very, very quickly, but according to science there’s something that’s very, very fast. What is the fastest thing in the universe?
a) Some letters are missing from the circle. Can you use the missing letters to find a fruit?
b) Put a different letter in front of IVE each time to make words with the following
1. A number. Ans: Five 2. Plunge into water. Ans: Dive 3. A place where bees live. Ans: Beehive
Math – Math teachers can use flash cards, or hand each student a manipulative with a problem to answer.
a) What mathematical symbol can be put between 5 and 9, to get a number bigger than 5 and
smaller than 9?
Ans: Decimal point (5.9)
b) Look at the first two triangles, and then work out what number should replace the question
mark in the third triangle.
Whether you teach a class of 10 students or 40 students, they learn best when they are mentally prepared and attentive to learning goals. Begin with procedures and routines. Continue with engaging activities that will motivate your students to focus and learn during your class. Skillful use of the crucial first few minutes of starting each class/lesson will go a long way in ensuring that your students will learn best.