Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Gotta Get Going

As teachers we go back a week before the kids. We are now three days into that week. On my drive home today I realized that I've been so caught up in preparing my classroom for the year, I have forgotten to plan for the students for next week. This happens to me every year.

I don't mean to suggest that the time spent on my classroom is not worthwhile. It certainly is. Setting up my classroom involves thinking through all sorts of important issues for the year. It makes me think about the community we want to create, the different learning experiences we will have, and the possible personalities in our class. I get so excited about creating a space that will offer many possibilities and be as flexible as possible, that it becomes all consuming.

Tonight, tomorrow, over the next few days, it is time to think about the kids. What will we do on that first day? How will we get to know one another? How will we organize all our materials? What will we do to begin building a strong community?

Even more importantly, it is time to begin really fleshing out my vision for the year (some might fairly say I should have started sooner actually). I still don't have a big picture view of this year and without that I'm just throwing things together here.

I'd love to hear about the way you spend your first days with students. What's your vision for that time and how to work to reach it?

1 comment:

Michaele Sommerville said...

You know how emotional kindergarten and first grade students can be, so day one is always upbeat and full of as much familiarity as I can make it. We sing songs that everyone knows, I assure them that it's okay if they forget my name and I ask them to help me remember theirs... I let the kids take ownership of the table materials (crayons, pencils, erasers, scissors, glue sticks) but not necessarily their desks until the last day of the first week, since I need to tweak seating arrangements. None of the children seem to notice because they are busy, busy, busy at centers most of the day. This gives me the opportunity to pair up children who will see one another through the remainder of the week, building that emotional safety net. I make sure that I put a schedule on the board for them to see, though most of them can't read it- checking each item/activity off as we go- it reassures those kiddos who are missing mom and dad that we will get through it all, and we will go home! For the first week of school, I stick to the same exact schedule and routine as I possibly can, working in a tour of the school when I think the kids are comfortable.

We read familiar books, play familiar games, and have some extra recess time, just to help get those wiggles out.

And I'm an old meanie- I don't let the parents come in to volunteer until after the first month of school. Seriously!