Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back To School Follow Up-How Do You Have A Great Start To The Year?

Last week I asked what you do to have a great start to the year. The results are pretty cool. Loads of great ideas you can take into your first couple of days with your kids.

Here are a few of my favorites:
  • Take the time to smell the roses! Listen - really - listen to the kids and enjoy the moment of the first few days. There will be plenty of time to catch up after the first few days. Get to know the kids, the staff, and parents. You can't turn back time no matter how we try. 
  • "I teach middle school math to grade six students who are at our school for the first time since we're a 6-8 school. They love to know about their teachers, but also love to tell about themselves. The quicker I KNOW them as individuals, the better. I always take photos of them the first day which I use to learn names as quickly as I can.
  • Don't dwell on what has been, always keep forward and never regret anything, life goes on and on :)
  • Have students fill out a "getting to know you" questionnaire that includes their hobbies, interests, activities, favorites, etc.  It give you a way to get to know your students and make connections with things outside the classroom. 
  • "Begin with a poem such as George Ella Lyon's, ""Where I'm From"" to invite students to begin creating a community of readers and writers. Write your own ""Where I'm From"" poem, and ask students to write theirs as well. This idea comes from Penny Kittle's Write Beside Them."
  • Get enough sleep so you can laugh with your students
  • Don't be afraid to ask your PLN for assistance and collaborate with your students as you develop a classroom syllabus and/or policy.
  • Find out what makes each student tick by asking them. Find out what do they want to learn. Assess for reinforcement desires, learning styles, interests, and share the same about me. Do team building games. Discuss the standards for each subject and let students vote on what they want to learn first. 
  • Have high expectations for the new year, bur remember that flexibility is essential.  Oh, and lots of chocolate in your drawer!
Those are just a few of the over 100 suggestions. What I found really interesting (and really great) was that many involved writing. And that writing was about self-reflection. Most of you know I am big on reflecting, both publicly and privately. Having kids write the first day allows them to do both. The key is keep that reflection up through out the year. Take time every so often and have kids just write about their progress or how they are doing. Even better, do it on a class blog or an individual blog. Make it public and allow anyone to comment.

Here is the rest of the list.

Did you see something that piqued your interest or something not on the list that you do? Add it to the comments below.

Here's to a wonderful start to the school year!
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