Month: June 2016

Your First and Last 2 Minutes

For about a year now, I have been practicing this method I call “First 2, Last 2” in my classes. This method pertains to relationship building for the first 2 minutes and the last 2 minutes of each class period. The first and last 2 minutes of each class, I intentionally set some time aside to connect with students. I feel that in this way, the class is more relaxed and easy to control.


As teachers,some of us prepare the materials that we will use that day before the class. This causes us to be busy in between periods. As the students enter, we scramble our things, we write stuff on the board, and so on. We barely notice the students coming inside the classroom.

After the bell rings, that’s just when we call their attention for attendance. After the roll call, we proceed to our lesson for the day–because we have limited time and we have so much yet to cover. This creates a disconnect between the teacher and the students as the year goes by, that has potential to alienate us from our students.

To combat this, I’ve been practicing “First 2, Last 2” as a relationship builder. As students enter the classroom, I make it a point to be ready with everything I need for that day so I could greet each and every one of them good morning. Most of them smile back, say good morning, yet there are still some students who completely ignore me. That’s ok. At least they can see that you’re always in a good mood before the class starts!


As soon as the bell stops ringing, is the “First 2”. I’m not really strict at imposing 2 minutes, sometimes it lasts longer. But of course, I have to control the connection. It cannot last longer than 5 mins, because I still need precious time for the lesson! Anyway, for the first 2 minutes, I talk to the whole class. Sometimes I single out a student like for example, when he or she has been gone a long time, I welcome him or her back. Sometimes I tell a short story about something interesting I saw on the Internet. Sometimes I mention something going on around the school like a school play or a sporting event, and encourage them to participate. Sometimes I ask about the latest movies and trends. I just say something that they can relate to, for them to see that I can also be their friend. But of course, there are still boundaries, and you have to set this. A good classroom manager can draw a fine line between friend and teacher.


For the “Last 2” or last 2 minutes of the class period, I make an effort not to give out last-minute instructions. I don’t really like parting ways with my students with shouting reminders on which pages to read. I like to end the class neat and relaxed. Instead of last minute reminders, I chat with them, joke around and laugh, and wish them a good day ahead. A good classroom manager can manage his or her time well.

Allocating the first 2 and last 2 minutes to your students pays off because the students feel respected, understood, and confident when their teacher notices them. They feel comfortable in class as they know that their teacher cares for them and what they do. This will result more toward positive social and learning behaviors.

Dear Teacher on the Tired Days

Dear Teacher on the Tired Days,

It’s all right, I know how you feel.
Let me tell you an experience so that you know I feel you.


Last month, I was asked to be a substitute teacher at our local preschool and handle the toddlers (1.5-2.4) class. It was my first time to handle a class that was that young. When you think about handling a baby class, it might seem sooo easy. There are no “real” academics involved, no papers, no homework to check, and no “real” lesson plans.

But as soon as the Clean Up Song started, indicating that class was about to start, I was in deep, deep pressure I wanted to cry right then and there. There were toddlers who didn’t want to separate from their moms, parents who were watching from the glass window, children throwing toys around, yadda yadda. I came to class prepared–with my materials and activities, but I wasn’t prepared for them.

I took this job not really knowing how different it would be from my middle school class. I honestly thought “How bad could it be? Middle School is the most challenging anyway, because children are on puberty and in the phase of discovering what and who they like.” But my was it way, way different, and way more difficult!

Have you ever stood in front of a classroom, counting from 1-10 to yourself, thinking what should I do now? I have, and it was the worst day of my teaching life.

I cried after class as soon as I got to my car. I dreaded going back to school the next day. When I got home, I crashed and woke up in the middle of the night. Even if it was just 2.5hrs, I was dead tired. I got more tired when I woke up cause I dreamt of being back in the classroom with more crying toddlers! It was the worst. It was like that for the first 3 days.

Then I realized, these toddlers are looking up to me. I was the only figure that they are going to listen to. So I did my research that night and came to school the next day with a gun that blew bubbles and hi5 videos.


Teaching is an on-going process of learning

The bubbles caught their attention, the hi5 videos made them want to dance. I danced with them, not for them. I played with them and did my activities with them. They needed to trust me so I showed them that they could. It was an on-going process of trust and learning for that whole month. Eventually, the days got better and the month ended with lots of love and laughter. They didn’t want to see me go!

Going to pre-school, I thought “How hard can this be? I’m a natural at teaching!” Coming out of preschool, I realized, “No one is born a toddler teacher.”



A Sometimes Tired Teacher