![alt text](/filestore/BlogImage/8119ccbc-848c-4321-a8de-163833cc2857/efe8d03c-0c3a-49d1-9910-50bf4b4a8c543beforemeblog.png "Big School language") As teachers, we recognise the importance of the language we use in the classroom. Explanations need to be meaningful and unambiguous; instructions need to be clear and concise. We also recognise the need for consistency across the school we work in. Despite this, there still appears to be misplaced expectations of year 7s in the first few months of their time at secondary school. Whilst it is important to maintain high expectations, a shared language across primary and secondary could be a great remedy to frustrated secondary teachers and bewildered year 7s. One way to create the best transitional environment for your new year 7s is to gather information about common practice in primary schools, for example, how do they indicate to children the teacher wishes to speak? How do they insist on good presentations in books? How do they encourage children to be independent learners? Equally, sharing your methods is a great way of sharing good practice and could also help to close the communication gap. In the meantime, here are some great tips to use ready for September. ### 3 before me 3 before me is a method used to ensure pupils are independent and develop a resolve about their own learning. Explain to students that before they ask you for an answer, they must have already: 1. looked around their table for a clue, whether that be to look back in their books, re-read the question, or look at any of the help sheets provided. 2. looked around the classroom for a clue. For this, ideally students will have access to dictionaries, thesauruses, text books, helpful displays, etc. 3. asked their partner or someone on their table. This won’t work if you have asked students to be silent. If you have, but also enforce 3 before me, you will get a student asking if it’s okay for them to talk to their partner, totally negating the whole process. Make it clear when 3 before me should and should not be employed. There are other versions of 3 before me - changes in the amount of ports of call for students to make before you. Try discussing with the class what they experienced in primary school and use what they say to make it work for you, your classroom and the subject you teach. ### Countdown routine Students may have had teachers say a slow and simple ‘1,2,3’ as an indication that students must quieten. They may have had their teachers jazz it up a bit with a, “hocus pocus!” and students reply “everybody focus!” The latter may seem a little childish, but remember these are 11 year olds and getting students to repeat something back to you ensures they aren’t gassing about something else to someone else. You may already be using a countdown to silence in your classroom, but asking what students experienced in their primaries, may give you insight into what will more quickly fit into the students’ routine. ### Classroom jobs It is a very common complaint from secondary school teachers that pupils who come up in year 7 are ‘not independent enough’. An interesting notion, when you consider that if you visit a primary school classroom, you are likely to see a scurry or children organising the classroom, handing out books, gathering various resources without the teacher even muttering a word. This is in part down to the assignment of jobs and responsibilities given to pupils - providing many opportunities for independence. Ask your year 7s what jobs they did at primary school - they might come up with jobs you hadn’t even realised would be helpful - holding the door open at the beginning and end of the class to save the door from slamming constantly, for example. Being clear about the jobs you give students, and being astute as to who does what, could make for the perfect end and beginning of your lesson, whilst providing structured opportunities for independence. ### Pen license The expectations on presentation in primary schools is a lot stricter than secondaries. If you bear in mind that writing cursively is part of the expectations of the national curriculum, it gives you some idea as to why primary schools take presentation very seriously. It might be argued that presentation isn’t everything and good pieces of work can be produced without an underlined title and a neat date. But high-expectations can lead to more pride and care in one’s work. These high-expectations must be outlined in the beginning, and you might avoid what seem like crazy questions (“Miss, can I write in pen?”) if you find out what those expectations were at primary school. You don’t have to start handing out pen licenses, but ‘legible’ handwriting is needed for GCSE exams. Laying out ground rules for presentation and setting high expectations may prevent legibility slipping during secondary years.