The First Moments of Instruction

Bryan ZwemkeBlog, Class Management, Engagement, Lesson Planning

In This Post

  • The beginning to any classroom can be enhanced & elevated
  • Opportunities for student voice can add additional layers to the success of starting a class off right
  • Technology can add a new layer to the first moments of instruction. Try it out!

Starting instruction for a student happens everyday, multiple times a day and the students and teachers have become conditioned to some type of effective format that has become timeless and predictable.  There is a sort of formula that has been created in this era of education to have some sort of bell work to begin class. We can call it an anticipatory set, bell work, warm-up, topic teaser or any sort of other name but essentially we are getting the learner ready for the lesson or building a skill related to standards.  This is a familiar story, with a familiar beginning and a familiar ending. It is comfortable, predictable, and timeless. And it works fairly well. So how can it be enhanced?

3 Tips for Beginning Your Class

  1. Get Social. Provide an inclusion activity for students to have a conversation with one another getting them out of their seats to engage with one another on a social emotional level while also having them step into the curriculum. A very simple example is for students to walk around the room and speak with four people about a topic posted on the screen or a review of the previous day.With these tips, it is important for classroom teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators and other adults in the room to also participate as modeling these activities shows our students they are meaningful. Click To Tweet
  2. Use Technology to see what they are thinking. Using a site like Mentimeter has a number of usages and features for students to use their device to share their thinking on a particular topic related to the learning.
  3. Don’t do anything related to the curriculum at all, for a moment. Students may need a break from the cognitive overload of their learning and can use a moment. Engaging in mindfulness work using materials from Calm Classroom can provide time for students to take a moment for self-care and self-awareness creating a calmer classroom environment for all students and the teacher
[scroll down to keep reading]

Master your classroom management with this online course.

Call to Action

Take one of these options and try them for a day, a week, two weeks, a quarter, and beyond and get a colleague to try one as well so you can share your experiences together in your professional learning network. With these tips, it is important for classroom teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators and other adults in the room to also participate as modeling these activities shows our students they are meaningful.

Join the Fun Together

Do you have a tip or a go to activity to begin your class? Tweet out your favorite strategy to encourage others to begin to think about starting their class off in this way. Tag a friend who you think would be great at these methods or who could benefit. Don’t forget to tag me (@bryanzwemke) and the Teach Better Team (@teachbetterteam) so we can participate too!


About Bryan Zwemke

Bryan Zwemke is a middle school principal in Illinois. He is the Vice President of the Association of Illinois Middle Schools (AIMS) and the co-founder of the #aimsnetwork Twitter chat. Bryan is currently in a doctoral program for Education Leadership. As a veteran of middle level education, Bryan has developed a passion for the necessary change toward the #ModernMiddleSchool – a ecosystem dedicated to student growth, collaborative spaces and practices, and research supported techniques to long term success. You can connect with Bryan on Twitter @bryanzwemke or via email at bryandzwemke@gmail.com.