The #1 …. (thing teachers do wrong the first day back to school)

Number One** Not your ordinary, endless list – just what’s number 1.

They Go Over The Class Rules


Yes, despite so many teachers doing this – I believe it a killer for creating the class atmosphere and “team spirit” that is so essential for teaching. 

It is crucial that right away, teachers focus on team building and getting to know you exercises. Bring the class together immediately, the first period. Spend lots of time on this. Only later in the day (if with the students all day) or the next class (if you have the class for only one period) should you negotiate rules and set out the “Dos and Don’ts”. 

First and last steps are so crucial when teaching (and here I outline why last things are so important!). 

Language teaching especially, requires a tight knit group that allows students to take risks and “be loose” – things so important for successfully learning and practicing a language. By coming out “heavy” right at the beginning, teachers set the tone incorrectly. Start by introducing yourself with a slideshow or having students guess about you. Then focus on them. Play informal conversation games that allow each other to get to know about one another. Have fun! You’ll have lots of time to get to the rules….. 

Here’s a few places to find icebreakers or materials about team building. 

1.Icebreaker ideas.  Search results

2. Latest Blog Carnival: Back to school fillers/icebreakers

3. Getting to know your students.

4.Introducing the teacher

5. Find Someone Who   / Pass the Paper

6. Storming Out or Norming In? Marisa Constantinides

7. Ultimate list of team building games/ideas.

Set the tone for cooperation!



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Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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2 Responses

  1. I agree with the comments about class rules. Im fact, I hardly go over any as it really is the teacher dictating students what is expected from them and appropriate methods of behaving in the classroom which is very teacher centric in many respects.

    I would recommend anyone to watch the “Dead Poets Society” to see how Robin Williams relaxes everyone in class and is very humanistic. We need to inject more humour and a personal touch in the EFL classroom.

  2. David says:


    I agree with you totally in principle but sometimes the reality is that rules are needed and they need to be clarified (and transparent/negotiated). I wish every class wasn’t so but even Robin Williams I think , would have had his hands full with some of my past classes! But you give yourself a fighting chance if you first start the relationship off with bonding / getting to know you type activities.

    I’m reminded of an article I read years ago – that showed that mock violence was excellent for creating community. The researcher advised doing activities where the students pretended to hurt the other, threw paper balls at each other etc… I’ve dabbled in this and it does seem to bring groups together instantly and release tension. Wish I could remember the article – alzheimers is coming on!

    Thanks for dropping in.


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