Monday, August 11, 2014

What to do the First Day of School

I am almost laughing this as my summer school students finished on the 5th of August when some of you were already heading back to school for teacher work days.  Unfortunately in Virginia, for both parties, business reigns supreme and so we have our so called Kings Dominion Law which necessitates that we start school after Labor Day putting giving our students 2-3 weeks less instruction than others before the AP and IB exams not to mention more time after Spring Break when we all know students start smelling summer!

But enough of the diatribe.  I am thinking to my first day of school on September 2nd.  My first day is typical - refined somewhat after twenty-three previous ones.  I spend most of the period getting to know my students and they me.  They have to answer questions such as 1) best place they went this summer (outside of their home bc otherwise they would say "bed!") 2) the place they would most want to be (again outside of their home) to which I answer here where I spent four years (and has this at the end of it)  3) Why we should study history (and don't say "to learn from the past") after which I show them the first minute from this.  4) something they want to learn from the course (which is difficult for most - but we want thinking to occur right) even it is a skill.  5) a quality (singular or plural) about their favorite teacher.

This article and this one use research to effectively say what I am doing is on task, but the authors also argue that your introduction to the content should also be done the first day and that (and thankfully I do this as well) your expectations should also be laid out the first day.  As we know from back to school night, students often form their impression of us on the first day and it is hard to change that.  So be fun, firm and kindly keep the kids on task and you will set yourself up for a great 2014-15 school year.

Good luck.  

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