Getting off to a good start with your new class

A Cheltenham teacher shares his welcome to a new class that sets the agenda for the year ahead

The first class of a new year often sets the agenda for the year ahead. For Cheltenham Secondary College teacher Spiro Liacos, there is a special formula that starts a new class and gets his students excited about the year ahead. He starts with a welcome, explaining what to expect that year:

Hi everyone. My name is Mr Liacos and I’m going to be your science teacher this year. I’m hoping that you’ll enjoy science.

By the end of the year you’ll know a lot more than you do now.

While Spiro teaches science, he is also passionate about ensuring students gain further English skills in his classes. ‘The most important thing you learn at school is reading and writing, and even though you can all read and write, the more practise you get, the better you get.'

So, whenever you’re answering questions, or writing down the observations you made in a prac, or completing an assignment, I don’t want you to concentrate just on the science, but also on the English. I want you to try to write everything in your best English.

I don’t just want a correct answer, I want a well-written correct answer.

He then asks the students to read their answers to the class. ‘This way you get to practise your English more, and you’ll be able to teach others about the work we’re doing. You’re not just going to learn stuff from me, but you’re going to learn stuff from each other.’

Spiro said that his strategy to welcome new students to his class seemed to set the class up with a positive start to the year. ‘I’ve been teaching like this for quite a few years now and it is received very positively by my students.

‘They get to show off their work to the rest of the kids, they get to hear best-practice answers from other kids, which lifts everyone’s standards, and kids who may not have understood something first time get to hear the answers from their peers.

I am totally convinced that by emphasising literacy, but surrounding literacy within the context of science, my students learn both better.