Teacher standing in front of classroom with students raising hands. Example of teacher presence.

How to Boost your Teacher Presence When you are New

In this post I’ll be sharing tips for developing teacher presence in your classroom.

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Developing Teacher Presence

What is Teacher Presence?

Scenario: You walk into a classroom full of 10 year old students. They are yelling, laughing, playing, and generally not doing anything they should be doing. As you enter the room, one student looks up and notices you. They nudge the student next to them. Slowly but surely, the noise quietens and before long, all eyes are upon you, waiting to hear what you have to say. THAT is teacher presence.

The ability that some people have to command a classroom with seemingly minimal effort.

How do I get Teacher Presence?

Some people have it naturally. Sorry if that’s not you! Don’t worry, it’s not me either. The good news is, that old ‘fake it til you make it’ adage is true for teachers! There are a few simple strategies that you can try today.

How to Fake It ‘Til You Make It

  • The Teacher Look
  • Body Language
  • Emotions
  • Classroom Setup
  • Words
  • Be Authentic
  • Build Relationships
  • Project Confidence
  • Have a clear plan
  • Ask for help

The Teacher Look

You know that look that teachers give? The one that stops a student in their tracks? Practice your ‘teacher look’ in the mirror.

Body Language

Be aware of how you hold yourself and of the message your body language sends. You need to project confidence, self-control, kindness, and enjoyment.

Emotions

You need to manage these. Maintain a suitable tone and reel in those emotions, especially during those challenging moments when that one student just won’t listen to you, and the rest of the class are starting to act up too. Now is not the time to lose it! Above all, you need to be an image of calm, control, and firm.

Classroom Set-Up

This says a lot about how you expect your students to learn. Do you have rows of tables (work alone), groups of tables (work collaboratively), flexible options (catering to diverse needs)?

Words

Think before you speak, especially when you feel like you’re losing control of the class. Don’t blurt out random consequences that you have no hope of following through with.

Be Authentic

I know, total contradiction of the ‘fake it til you make it’! Your students need to know that you are sincere and honest. Don’t go overboard trying to ‘fake it’. Implement these steps slowly, to ensure you are completely comfortable with each one.

Build Relationships

Your students need to know that they are important to you. Treat them like the little humans that they are. Value their opinions. If something isn’t working in your classroom, ask them why. Ask for their ideas, and value their opinions. Give them a sense of ownership over the classroom and their learning.

Project Confidence

As a self-confessed introvert, I really struggle with this one. Careful planning really helps – know what you’re going to teach, how you’re going to teach it. Write a script if needed. Research the concepts you’re planning to teach. Pretend to be a student and participate in the lesson yourself. Because if you don’t understand the lesson content, how do you expect your students to?

Have a Clear Plan

What will you do if a student does not do what you want them to? Plan out a strategy and use it consistently. You can also involve your students in establishing what this is. Knowing what your strategy is means you can confidently implement it when needed.

Ask for Help

Speak to your more experienced colleagues about how they developed their teacher presence. Ask them for feedback on your strategies, and observe theirs.

It’s Your Turn to Try!

Just like everything, developing teacher presence takes time and practice. Don’t expect it to be there on your first day of teaching! If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all of these tips, just choose the step that resonates most with you and try it for a week. Then come back and try another one. With time, you’ll be feeling more confident and in command of the classroom!

I’ve compiled all of these tips into a handy checklist printable, along with some reflection pages! You can download your FREE Teacher Presence Tips pack in the Free Resource Library.

Developing Teacher Presence

Did you try these tips? Do you have some different tips you’d like to share? Drop a comment below to let me know!

8 thoughts on “How to Boost your Teacher Presence When you are New”

  1. I remember vividly my first year of teaching. I was a high school math teacher, fresh out of college. Many of my students were only a few years younger than me. My principal told me to always keep my cool because if I lost control the students gained it. Those words have stuck with me in the classroom and many life situations. I wish your tips had been available my first year! They are clear and actionable!

  2. I love this post. The information is so useful – not just for teachers but for any professional or even for students who are doing public speaking. Great tips. Thank you.

  3. One of my education professors in college was a former high school teacher from downtown Chicago. She had the presence of a powerhouse and no one dared come to class unprepared. And that teacher look…yeah, she was a master at it. She wasn’t even 5 feet tall, but she terrified all of us. After you passed her first class though, she treated you as a colleague rather than a student (since we were education majors) and was one of the kindest, sweetest persons I’ve ever met. She had complete control over her presence and could turn it on and off in a heartbeat.

  4. I think this could also be applied to parenting. You know. The Mom Look. The one where the kid just knows to get it together. Some parents have it naturally though others may need to work at it a bit more. And every one of your tips could help there as well. Except maybe change classroom to home. lol

  5. This post made me smile! I worked hard on having teacher presence, but it is easier with younger children. I am now a librarian in a college for 16-19-year-olds and it is a whole different ball game 😀

  6. Oh my gosh…this takes me right back to the classroom. I struggled so much with this. I always valued connecting with my students, and they felt that. But it also got me in trouble because they felt they could take advantage or that we were “friends” or whatever. These are great tips! Managing your emotions, I think, is especially important. Maintaining a calm, firm presence is so much more effective than shouting over them when things get out of hand.

  7. I love this article!! Teacher presence is so important. I think the biggest factor you hit on was building relationships. It’s been 19 years since I left the classroom, and I have had students seek me out on Facebook because of the relationship we had. I also had students in my classroom (and this was a rough area to teach in) who I had no problems with at all and others did. I believe it’s because I treated my students with respect and they did the same with me.
    I also agree with you that all of this can be learned if it doesn’t come naturally. I highly recommend the book Teaching with Love and Logic by Jim Fay. Their methods are a game changer! They are great for parenting as well!

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