Thursday, September 3, 2015

First Day of School

Perhaps we, as teachers, should rethink the first day of school and what we do with our classes. Students have spent three months on summer vacation so when they enter the building for their first day of school, they are not prepared to understand, comprehend, and remember a whole bunch of information. However, when students get to school on that first day, that's exactly what they get. All day, students are overwhelmed with rules, procedures, information, etc.  Now, I'm sure all that information is important for students to know, but teachers are just wasting their time because the students are not going to remember. We spend the entire day talking to students about all this important stuff, yet nothing is retained. Students simply are not ready. It would be quite humorous to zoom out of a classroom and have the ability to see each students thoughts as the teacher spends all class discussing rules, procedures, etc.  Students' thoughts would be drifting all over-lunch, who's in their class, what they did all summer, etc.
So if students are not ready to receive important information, what should we do on the first day? Well, I think the answer is easy-work on what's most important in school anyway: making relationships. Start getting to know your students. Start the process of connecting with them and building a foundation of an impactful relationship. There are a wide variety of activities a teacher can do with their students on the first day. I think what's best is to get them doing something. Get them active. Create an experience so they are excited about your class and can't wait to come back the next day. There's plenty of time to cover the important information. Start with something fun.  Perhaps you already do that, which is great! But if you find yourself as one of those teachers who talks about rules and procedures all day on the first day, perhaps rethink your strategy. Save that important information for a time when students have settled into a routine, ready to receive and understand.

My first day: I stood at the doorway and greeted them of course in a very enthusiastic way. Music was playing in my room (inspriational music) and on the board, they had a task. Seat themselves alphabetically by last name, following the directional arrows of the desks. This got them moving and doing. It also got them talking with each other because they all come from different elementary schools, so they do not know each other. After a certain amount of time, I would stop the class and see how well they did. Next, I would give them a brief monologue on what I thought school is and should be. Then, I passed out a can of play-doh to each student and had them make something they were passionate about. Then, of course, we shared out what we made. This started the process of getting to know the students because we all love to talk about what we are passionate about. Students don't remember the rules, procedures, and info the first day--but they do remember the play-doh.


Jennifer Smedsrud said...

Wise words! Have a great year!

Unknown said...

I tried this and it made for a nice way to break the ice. Thanks for sharing!