Monday, January 24, 2011

Back to School III

That first day can be intimidating for many teachers, even those teachers who have been doing it for years. A new year means new students, perhaps a new year level and classroom. I'm writing these posts as much for others as I am myself =).
I've looked at 
1. Establishing Goals
2. Developing Classroom Rules
3. Enlisting Parent Cooperation and 
4. Preparing the Routine of that First Day

Be in the classroom a little early and greet each student as they come into class. If, like my school that first day there is an assembly in the morning, you will not meet every students in the class, but make sure when you get to your class line, that you greet them and make a quick introduction.
If tables are set up, you could have a worksheet on each table, which students get straight into while you wait for others to arrive. Make sure that this is simple enough for all students to complete. The aim of doing this is so that students walk into the room and see there is a routine straight away. If you prefer, you may stay on the carpet and have students put away their things and join you on the mat. It might help you to have a reference on the board of steps they need to follow before they come to the mat. With my students, I display the steps I would like them to follow using pictures, as many are not fluent with English e.g. A picture of a bag on a hook with the words 'Hang your bag on the hook'. It is important that how you start the day matches what you expect on the average day of school and what you may do will be different to another teacher's approach.

"Expecting students to just sit is unreasonable. If they use that time to just sit and chat, you are misteaching them about what your classroom will be like. You are saying 'This class is really easy. You have time to talk all day.'"

Dealing with behaviour of students can be a struggle that first day. Some students will enjoy testing your boundaries. When discussing a student's behaviour with them, "your manner should be gentle, but firm. Your voice should communicate that you are not the least bit angry or flustered. You simply know exactly what you expect of your students."  Don't avoid conflicts with students because it's only the first day, as this first day can set the tone for the rest of the year. When there is a conflict, just ensure that you do remain calm and in control of the situation. Try not to raise your voice, you shouting will not resolve the issue any faster. 

By the first day you would have already prepared your schedule, with planned activities. Below is generally what I do on the first day
  • Introductions
  • Name Game
  • Discussion of routines and class rules, including allocating tables
  • Tour of the school and discussion of school rules at every point
  • Read a story on mat, perhaps with a fun follow up activity
  • Making Book Covers
  • Have students write me a letter about what they enjoy doing at school, what they find difficult, what they are looking forward to etc. This could work with younger students if this was done as a speaking and listening activity or drawing a picture for each one of these things etc.
  • During any independent work, I may find the time to listen to some students read or walk around the class having a chat with individual students
  • Group Game
  • Discussion and Review of the first day, as a class.
As stated in the previous post, it is better to plan too much than not enough. Do not stress if things don't get done. Simply concentrate on getting to know your students and setting the tone for the rest of the year. If things do not work out the way you had planned, or behaviour became out of control, at the end of the day evaluate what you believe caused these issues and try to deter that behaviour the next day. 

Good Luck! I hope that you all have a fantastic first day. It would be great to hear how it went from some of you.

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