Some of you have already started school and some will begin this week or next week. For those of you who have already started, I apologize for the lateness of this blog. However, I hope you still find it thought provoking.
In planning the first day there are several things to keep in mind. First, consider where specialist, lunch and other events, which will impact your schedule, ocurr. Then begin planning around them. Be prepared. Have everything xerox, collated, cut-out, stapled, whatever is needed. You will be much more relaxed with these things done. You will also be ready to focus on the students and parents as they come in.
Beginning with a community building activity on the first day is essential.
Having a class meeting brings everyone together, and helps to get the parents out of the room. Have the students sit in a circle, say their name and share something about one special person they had an opportunity to spend time with over the summer. This stem equalizes the conversation. Make sure you share as well.
Post the schedule for the day, and read it to them, so the students know what will be happening and that there will be an end to the school day. I wouldn't put the times next to the activities because those first few days never play-out the way you want. Some students will challenge you if you are late/early for the next activity.
After sharing they will need a get up and move activity. They could do a writing activity at their new seats. This can take many forms depending on the grade level. In the lower grades you may need to teach how to write a letter of the alphabet. Start with a straight line letter, such as l or t. For older students, have them write a story. It might be about what they shared about the special person.
They probably need some type of break by now. You could introduce a routine, at this point. It might be how to get in a line. Remember, any routine you introduce needs to be taught. Don't assume they know how to do it. Tell them what they will be doing, the purpose, model it, let them practice it, give them feedback, practice again and do it frequently.
Take them for a walk around the building. Even though they may have been in this building for several years, it is still a new year, with a new teacher. Never assume!
If you can, now might be a good time to let them go outside to play. You probably need fresh air also.
You should include silent reading, which would be best after a lot of movement activity, such as recess.
This would also be an opportunity to listen to students' read. Again. this is a form of assessment.
Also, find a moment for you to read to the students. it might be a picture book or a short story that relates to the beginning of school or the first unit of study you will be teaching. Again, match it to the grade level.
As students finish, you could have an art activity setup for them to draw a self-portrait. You will need to first explain the activity, have a model of how it should look, full page or half page, details, background. If you do this it eliminates the game of "guess what's on the teacher's mind."
Another activity, I swear by this one for lots of reasons, "scrolls" or as some students mistakenly call them "squirrels." Prepare for each child a cardboard, paper towel roll. Tape a sheet of 1" graph paper to it. In each box, on the top row, write the numbers -9 to 0. On the second row, write the numbers 1-6, the students will complete this row and continue on to the next. On the inside of the roll, write the student's name. This is essential. It will save a lot of aggravation when someone can't find their scroll or mixes it up with someone else's. As students finish one page you add another page. They just keep writing numbers at their own pace. I have students do this all year long. It is a content related filler as well. The highest number a student got to, within 2 years, was 13.678. Again, this becomes an assessment tool. You quickly find out who can count, write numbers correctly, who does reversals and transposing of numbers. Also, you will discover who understands place value, can recognize patterns and likes or doesn't like challenges.
Don't try to do all your assessments on the first day. I found observation was the most informative the first 2 days. Having the students share in the morning can tell you a lot about their comfort levels and oral communication. The writing activity informs you as to their handwriting ability or their story writing ability. The scrolls are full of assessment information.
Are you exhausted yet? It's probably 1:00. It shouldn't be 9:00! Or we're in trouble.
Now you need an afternoon activity. How about letting them experiment with math manipulatives. They will have fun and you will be observing and noting their behaviors. I would only pull out 2-3 types. Remember to explain how to use them and how to clean-up when they are done.
At the end of the day introduce a clean-up routine. State what the routine is, the purpose, model it, let them practice, give feedback and practice again.
Any routine you teach you need to be tenacious about it, if it is important to you. More about this later.
Most importantly, over plan! Better to have extra than not enough. Trust me on this one.
Make sure you laugh. This has got to be the funniest job ever.
Now, if you have made it through the day, you are to go home, have a glass of wine, a chocolate dessert and to bed early because it all begins again tomorrow.
I've decided to post my blog on Wednesdays also. So, now I will have new blogs twice aweek. Yea!!! I hope.
Please let me know how things are going or if you have questions.
Have a great week.