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Monday, August 31, 2015

5 Tips for the First Week of School

As a new school year is set to begin, we often spend countless nights in the lead-up to the "big day" asking ourselves the same kind of question:

How can I make this year even better?

The time spent pondering ideas to this question is so important, if you are looking to elicit any kind of change to your own teaching practice and goals for this school year. Take your time. Reflect on everything you know and everything you've tried before - this can be a year for you to tweak things slightly or even re-brand yourself as an educator!

Here are 5 things that I believe matter in the first week of school:

1. Welcome them to your classroom at the door with a smile. First day class organization chaos may happen - but once you have your group and are in the room - take the time to make them feel like they are a part of something special in your class.

2. Spend time with "team building" and "class culture" growing games and activities. DO NOT begin with class rules. Nothing lets the excitement out of the room quite like revealing your laminated copy of the class rules (because they haven't changed in 10+ years).

3. Learn their names in the first week (or even the first few days if you can). Use student names early and often - we all love hearing our name used, and it will begin to show students that you care about them and who they are. 

4. Find out about student interests. The more directly the better too! Having them write a letter to introduce themselves to you is one idea - but a face-to-face conversation will give them both your attention and interest. 

5. Share your own beliefs about learning and development. As a class, come up with a collaborative list of things to remember and realize. Post them on the walls all around the class:

"Learning is a journey - we are all in this together"
"Be problem-solvers - not problem-makers"
"Learning is messy and failure gives us important feedback"
"Show Grit. Be Resilient. Stay Strong."
"Dream about what you want to learn and become."

Above all else, have fun and always remember why you chose this profession. Do what is best for students and always keep their interests and dreams in mind. 

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