Redeeming the First Minute

//Redeeming the First Minute

Redeeming the First Minute

You teach the way you teach…. You always start the school year that way…. You see no point in buying back a mere minute….

Ah, but first impressions are lasting!

What if a couple of secrets injected into the first minute could make a tremendous difference in the entire school year? Would you want to learn those secrets?

Let us look at them together.

Secret #1 – Give Character Building First Place

You will become more effective, and increase academic achievement exponentially, by positioning character building in that first minute. As students enter your classroom for the first time, you show them that moral values take priority. You place character building on a pedestal, and “sell” students on it.

Famous educator Dr. Laurence J. Peter (1919-1990) once said, “A rut is a grave with the ends knocked out.”

The rut of starting your school year in the same old way can thwart success. Teaching high moral values from the first minute will yield tremendous increases in both academic and social achievement.

Students assume you will take time to demand quiet, explain rules, or take attendance. That is what teachers do. Shock them by directing first-minute attention to high moral values instead.

You may teach tertiary, secondary, or elementary. You may teach chemistry, algebra, or reading. It makes no difference. Inject the first minute with exciting character building, and you position both your students and yourself for victory.

Secret #2 – Emphasize Love

Teachers who fail to emphasize love are far less likely to finish the school year in victory. Knowledgeable teachers give the first minute to love, thereby placing their feet in the starting blocks for a gold medal victory.

Love is exercised when we do what is best for others. That definition explains the powerful influence of this character trait in the classroom. Students who learn to exercise love work consciously to do what is best for one another and for the teacher.

Love energizes other character traits such as responsibility and respect – vital to student achievement. Love compels integrity, honesty, trustworthiness, and compassion. Love encourages students to work together harmoniously in the chemistry lab. Love induces students who grasp algebra readily to help less capable students. Love quiets those who are tempted to scoff at fellow-students’ struggles for reading mastery. Love keeps order.

Teach love beginning in the first minute of entering the classroom, and you will lay the foundation for student success. You will begin to create men and women of character.

Secret #3 – How-to Prepare for the First Minute

You are about to immerse your students’ five senses in a lesson on love. Prepare-ahead ideas give that lesson inestimable value. They also free you, the teacher, to take attendance and complete other duties during your first minute.

  • Hearing. Fill students’ ears with Handel’s bright instrumental music. Turn volume high enough to compel listening without irritation. Have a Handel concerto playing before the first students enter. They should hear spirited music as they near your room. Love – do what is best – for your students. Invest time in pre-listening to music before using it. Choose from Handel’s concertos in major keys. One good example is the first movement of Handel’s Concerto Grosso Op. 6, No. 1 in G Major. Another good choice is The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba. Use only Handel as his music sustains the happy, calming effect longer. While much classical music calms and quiets students – even hyperactive students – Handel’s music stimulates clear thinking, too, as students learn love in that vital first minute.
  • Sight. Fill students’ eyes with arresting displays of love as a character trait. Make bulletin boards eye-popping with shades of red. Hearts are a universal symbol of love, so use them generously. Add pictures that portray the exercise of love as doing what is best for others. Avoid images that suggest, in any way, romantic or sexual love. Include images that depict love in action, not just words. Capitalize on student orientation to visual learning. Capture eyes with a memorable first impression of love.
  • Smell. The aroma of vanilla lifts moods. Burn candles scented with vanilla – or use a diffuser. Hint: “Plug it in!” Add citrus scents such as grapefruit for alert students that will quickly learn your lesson on love. Lemongrass also wakens brains. Why go to the trouble of filling noses with specific aromas? All aromas have direct effects on mood and mindset. Unpleasant odors tend to stimulate aggressiveness and fear – not what you want! The above aromas help students learn about love in first minutes.
  • Taste. Ply students’ taste buds with brain-stimulating treats. Place on desks banana chunks or orange slices wrapped in paper napkins. Avoid dry or sugary treats. Candy hearts carry the love theme, but they make brains dull. Music, displays, and aroma provided passive involvement during the first seconds of the first minute. Treats let you actively love, i.e., do what is best for students.
  • Touch. Hearts cut of various textures involve every age in a proactive lesson on love. Place a heart on each desk. Provide verbal instruction for non-readers, written for readers. Instructions should teach the definition of love: doing what is best for others. Instruct students to nibble their treats while handling the textured heart, thinking of how love is the most important part of character, i.e., of doing what is right. Have them draw or write (dependent on age) their idea. Give no help. This is a “first minute” activity and “doing what is best for” the teacher means working independently and silently. Save discussion for the next few days.


Redeem the first minute of your school year by immersing students in character. Never again waste it demanding silence, taking attendance, or explaining rules. Make a lasting impression that high moral values take priority – and that love surpasses them all. You will lay a strong foundation on which you can build character throughout the year.


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