First day of school activities...

Discussion in 'Education and Academia' started by Jacen McCullough, Jul 7, 2005.

  1. Jacen McCullough

    Nov 23, 1998
    Hey folks,

    As I will soon be entering my first year as a paid teacher, I realized that the one thing I'm the most unprepared for will be the first thing I face: The first day of school. I'll be teaching 5 sections of freshman English this year, and I've been trying to come up with some ideas for an activity for the first day. The main problem is that most of my ideas had been predicated on the 45 minute class. My new school has a block schedule, so I will have my new students for 82 minutes on that first day. I'd love to hear from both teachers (at any level) and students on their first day of the year experiences. Teachers, what has worked the best for you? What types of activities do you do and what do you get out of them? Students, what types of activities do you like to do on the first day of the year? What activities do you absolutely HATE. Any input would be greatly appreciated!
  2. Iceblink

    Iceblink Member

    Oct 11, 1999
    Ipswich Town FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I'll respond later, as I have to head to school for team leaders' curriculum planning... but I did have time to ask this...

    How'd you get a job so fast?

    Are you working at the school where you did your student teaching?
  3. pething101

    pething101 Member

    Jul 31, 2001
    Smyrna, Ga
    West Ham United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    First day of the year is pretty darn important. Things I do on the first day

    A seating chart is a must. Make sure everyone has an assigned seat. It does not matter how you do it, I ususally have a transparency with each seat on it and write the students names in the seats and have it on the overhead as they walk in but other do it differently

    Go through your classroom rules, policies and procedures.

    Get some students personal info, pass out index cards and get phone numbers, parents names, hobbies, medical conditions, etc from each student. I then go through the cards and have each student stand up and introduce themselves. Make sure they talk for a minimum of one minute. Some will go longer, some it will be like pulling teeth.

    Those two things will kill an hour.

    After that, screw it, get started. I usually make sure that there is a textbook at each desk and after we go through the index cards, I give them a vocab list and tell them to get cracking.

    The reason I do this is I want the kids to know that we are going to work in class so might as well start on day one. Make sure to take it up and give them a grade the very next day.

    That is pretty much my opening day.
  4. Pierre-Henri

    Pierre-Henri New Member

    Jun 7, 2004
    Strasbourg, France.
    (I was a teacher in highschool a few years ago, here in France, but I can't say I have much experience. I was a rather traditional teacher, so take my advices only if you want them.)

    Take the lead. Show you know your job, plan carefully your first lessons and, above anything else, don't give the kids the impression you're improvising . Self confidence is the key, even if it's very difficult the first day.

    DON'T ASK YOUR STUDENTS WHAT THEY WANT TO DO. NEVER. You're the boss, you're the captain, you're the helmsman. That doesn't mean you have to be a prick, just that you know where you're going.

    It is much easier to soften with time than to strengthen. Remain stiff at the beginning, and after this you can adjust your style and be more natural.

    On the other hand, if you start by being too cool, you're screwed.
  5. IntheNet

    IntheNet New Member

    Nov 5, 2002
    Northern Virginia
    Blackburn Rovers FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Jacen: I know my post will be ignored, but if I could convey one thing which every teacher should make clear from the onset is a clear statement of your objectives and expectations to the students... I know from personal experience these are often typed out on handouts but you shoud verbalize them from the first class/first day: WHAT IS EXPECTED (by the teacher) FROM THE STUDENTS AND WHAT THE OBJECTIVES ARE OF THE COURSE!

    Students tend to respect such teachers that are upfront with their objectives and expectations, as do parents...

    btw...C-O-N-G-R-A-T-U-L-A-T-I-O-N-S on your teaching gig! I know we never see eye to eye on educational pedagogy and other matters but as a parent I salute your service on behalf of students....
  6. TheSlipperyOne

    TheSlipperyOne Member+

    Feb 29, 2000
    Arsenal FC
    Don't touch the students in their bathing suit areas.
  7. Jacen McCullough

    Nov 23, 1998
    I got a job one week after graduation (May 22nd). It's not the school that I student taught at (though I would have loved working there. They had no English openings). I got a job as quick as I did for two main reasons. The first is that I had a pretty decent resume. I graduated with honors and had glowing student teaching evaluations from both mentor teachers and the university supervisor. I have 3 years of professional journalism experience, which looks good for working with school extracurriculars. I aced the Praxis 2 content knowledge exam, and I had a strong work history.

    The second reason is that there are just more teaching jobs on the East Coast than there are in the midwest. A buddy of mine graduated a year before me and moved to Iowa. He did sub work last year, and still can't find a staff position (he's got a couple of long-term gigs, though). In Maryland, if you have a decent resume, you're pretty much guaranteed to find a job SOMEWHERE (unless you're elementary Edu or secondary History).
  8. Jacen McCullough

    Nov 23, 1998

    Duh. That's clearly something best saved for the second day. :D

    In all honesty, I just don't get teachers who are sexually tempted by their students. I'm 25 (younger than many of the teachers you see in these sex scandals) and the students I teach are just not alluring at all to me. They're kids. It's just weird to even think of an adult viewing them in a sexual way.
  9. dj43

    dj43 New Member

    Aug 9, 2002
    Nor Cal
    My 1st day schedule for the soccer team, and my wife's for her classroom are rather similar.

    1. Be prepared and organized. Remember that once you close the door, it is your own world. You make of it what you want. If you want organization and respect, demand it. If you will accept chaos, that will happen on its own.

    2. ASK your students to express, in writing, 50 words or less, what they expect to accomplish this year. It sounds hokey but my wife, who has used this for years, suggested I use it for soccer. I tried it and it does work. Gets the students used to the fact that you expect them to respond to you not just sit around expecting you to feed them a constant input a la video games.

    3. Tell them what you expect of them. Quiet and attentive during instruction, homework on time, the works...

    4. Finally, make sure you set firm guidelines at the beginning. Be firm AND fair, and remember YOU decide both. It is YOUR classroom which YOU run for the benefit of ALL students. You can always lighten up the rules if the students are performing but it is next to impossible to tighten things up after a lax start.

    Congratulations on joining one of the most important professions on the planet.
  10. Chicago1871

    Chicago1871 Member

    Apr 21, 2001
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Heads Up 7-Up. :D
  11. quentinc

    quentinc New Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    Annapolis, MD
    Last year, I had the best teacher I ever had, and probably will ever have (he was a retired Army Colonel and taught World History). And he really spent three days doing typical "first-day" activities. I'll tell you what he did that I liked. And these are some other things that teachers typically do on the first day.

    1) Don't give any brain-taxing work. Students HATE having to do work on the first day of school, and the last thing you want is to get your relationship started off on the wrong foot.

    2) If you can avoid it (at our school, students have to do this), don't make students fill out any personal information forms. There's about a thousand sheets of paper that we have to fill out on the first day, students will like you if they don't have anything to fill out.

    3) Create an activity so students get to know each other. Be creative, but make sure that it involves interaction with the whole class. This is especially true for freshmen, since it's a new school, and they might not have gone to school with some of these people.

    4) Don't spend too much time dwelling on the curriculum. Just outline it on a sheet (for the parents) and briefly go over it, but don't bore everyone to death.

    5) This is what I got from the teacher I mentioned above: Tell the students about yourself. Students like to see the human side of their teachers, so give them a condensed version of your life history. My History teacher spent three days going over his life, and especially his years in the military. He told us what he went through in the army, and it made us respect him right away. We knew what he had gone through, and he let us know right away. And make this a continuing theme throughout the year. Let students know that you're a person, and they'll be the same to you. It gives the class a more congenial feel. Even though his curriculum was hardly exciting (it was outlined like a typical college lecture course, with fewer students), I had the most fun, and learned the most, of any class I've ever been in. And it was partially because there was an air of respect, for both student-to-teacher, and vice versa.
  12. pething101

    pething101 Member

    Jul 31, 2001
    Smyrna, Ga
    West Ham United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Something I do on the first or second day is a "Find someone who ..." activity. One a blank sheet of paper, draw 10 geometric shapes. In the shapes, think of different personal characteristics. Phrase it as "Find someone who is <a style='text-decoration: none; border-bottom: 3px double;' href="" onmouseover="window.status='left-handed'; return true;" onmouseout="window.status=''; return true;">left-handed</a>" or "Find someone who is the youngest child" or something along those lines. Each kid gets a sheet. Have them go around the class and fill out the sheets finding people that match each characteristic. Make one or two, impossible to find.

    It is highly amusing.

    It also works well as a review for a test.
  13. RoverMax

    RoverMax Member

    May 4, 2003
    Blackburn Rovers FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States

    As someone who just graduated HS, I agree with all of this, especially #5.

    Don't give too much work the first night, and then after that, start giving the same amount of work you plan on giving every night. At my school, some teachers have the problem where they decide to give a ton of work in the beginning of the year, one teacher decided that after the weekend (our school started on a Wednesday or Thursday), we would have a 3 page paper due Monday and then another due Tuesday. It was a pain in the ass, especially since after that, we pretty much had one paper every 3 or 4 weeks. This same teacher would also give 90 pages of reading one night and then 20 the next. Spreading things out is crucial, not only to keep the students happy but to make sure they do the work. If a teacher gives too much reading out one night, I wouldn't do any of it, but if it was a reasonable assignment, I would.
  14. Peakite

    Peakite Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    Halifax Town
    I'm due to start myself come September, need to think about how I'm going to start off at some point soon. But for now I'm concentrating on finishing my training.

    Enjoy it Jacen.

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