Create A+ Days That Last all Year! A Back-to-School Guide
It’s that one glorious time of year when new and veteran teachers, administrators and education support professionals (ESPs) are drawn together by that much-anticipated milepost: the first day of school.
In this back-to-school guide, we offer ideas for first-year and veteran educators. You’ll find tips for conducting class, managing your classroom, and making fresh-faced students feel comfortable. Educators will also share grassroots organizing suggestions on how to advocate for your students and school. Make it an epic year!
Laurie Jones, speech communications/literacy coach, Mission Oak High School, Tulare, California
‘Something’ to Break the Ice We have six feeder schools to our high school. Many of our kids don’t know one another on Day One and tend to clique with their eighth-grade buddies. To mix up this grouping in the classroom, I buy two decks of cards. The first deck I split up and tape to each desk. The second deck gets passed out randomly at the door. Students find their seat when they find their match. We then move into the “something” interview. I hand out a paper that says, “Five Things: Something everyone knows about me, something most people know about me, something some people know about me, something a few people know about me, and something no one knows about me.” I split the kids in half and number them off. They find their matching number and interview that person using the five prompts. After the interview, they introduce that person to the class. This breaks down barriers, gets the kids thinking about how people perceive them, and gives many of us the few laughs we need to break the tension of the first day!
Welcome New Teachers and ESPs As a literacy coach for our school, I mentor all new English teachers. Though most conversations revolve around classroom management and pedagogy, I always encourage [educators] to attend our CTA (California Teachers Association) luncheons and meetings. As new educators, CTA can be their voice. When discussing CTA, I like to hear about their love and support of the teaching profession. I then tie that passion in with CTA’s mission. I do the same with ESPs, who are equally committed to the education and safety of our students. We have an interesting job . . . surrounded by youth, a parent’s most precious commodity. For the sake of the students, we need to make sure clarity can be found when there are disputes between district administrators and school staff.
1,2,3 . . . Grades are Done! Connecting with my students and calling them by name on the first day is essential. It makes me feel like I am off to a good start. Learning names can come naturally, but it can help to place name tags on their desks. Then, there is my student number system. It is a lifesaver. Students receive a number corresponding to their place in the alphabet. From day one, students know their number and use it to line up. The number also corresponds to their place in the grade book. As students hand in papers, I call out their numbers.
Eventually, they just know when to come up and hand them in because they are so used to the number system. Once I have the papers in order, they are easy to record in the grade book. I just flip through, and the work of recording the grades is done. Of course, the number system is for managerial purposes. Bulletin board displays at Create A+ Days That Last all Year! A Back-to-School Guide: