I am sure that every beginning teacher has heard it before. Don't smile till Easter. No smiling means that you mean business. It demands instant respect with a hint of fear. If you appear too human and friendly, it will be way too difficult to manage your students come term two...
While I can see the reasoning behind the mantra, I think it is a terrible piece of advice. It implies that being friendly and smiling is a weakness, and will ultimately lead to an unruly classroom. This is totally untrue.
Start the year the way you intend it to continue
1. Give the students ownership over how they want the classroom to run/feel. Ask the learners what helps them learn, what doesn't, and what kind of classroom would they like to be a part of. When I do this, recurring themes are collaboration, friendship and inclusivity.
2. Start on day one with purposeful activities. Choose activities that require the types of behaviours you need to help create your positive, inclusive and safe environment.
3. Be clear with your expectations. Set clear expectations regarding behaviour during these activities and use positive reinforcement when you notice that the good behaviours are being used.
4. Whenever student behaviour isn't good enough, stop. Even if it is only a little disruption, or students are becoming slightly less focussed. Don't be afraid to stop the class and remind them when they are not using positive behaviours. Relate this back to the reason WHY it is important (how it will help create the classroom environment they want and help them to learn).
5. SMILE. Share a smile with your learners. Remember that you set the tone for your classroom and that a smile is contagious.
These steps will help students to understand your expectations as a teacher and will help to create a classroom environment that students (and teachers) will want to be a part of!
I'm going to finish this post off with a brilliant excerpt that was sent to the staff by our awesome AP.