Friday, July 31, 2015

Fun Ways to Launch the Start of the School Year:)

Wow!  It is hard to believe that summer vacation is almost over:).  Hopefully your break was a restful one full of travel, play, and general recharging of batteries.  We have been so busy with moving, renovating our website, and preparing for conferences that we fell behind on our postings to the blog and for that we deeply apologize. 

So with school starting in the next few weeks, what can teachers do now to ensure a positive beginning of the year?  Those first weeks have the potential to decide the course of the other 9 months.  Now is the time to develop some strategies to build that crucial positive energy which will lead to a good year for both students and teachers.  This is a profession that will probably never lead to riches, but will offer multiple opportunities to inspire students to reach their potential.  Here is a video that in a humorous way validates what teachers do and why they should be valued over sports figures! 

Well, here are a few tips to ease into those first few days with zero stress:

1.  Stand at the door, ask for each for his/her name, and then greet each student with a hello, handshake, and smile upon entering the room.  Most students will be surprised by this approach.  It will also lower their stress levels as well. 

2.  After the bell rings and everyone is seated, share a corny clip on the excitement that permeates every classroom on day one.  Giggles will spring up around the room and that opens up the room to discussions on what they feel about the new year.  From this point, teachers might pair students up to discuss what they are looking forward to and why.  From this (5 minutes), students will share what their partners said remembering that there is no right or wrong. 

3.  Try to print out a roster with student pictures to speed up the process of learning every student’s name.  Assign seats early on (especially with middle school and high school where teachers see 130-180 students every day) to help with name recall.  Let students know that they will be able to test the teacher’s memory after a week.  If the teacher earns a “grade” of less than 90%, each student will receive 10 extra points in class participation (or whatever type of prize works for you).  Allowing students to test the teacher is always fun.

4.  With parental OK, set up a class FACEBOOK page, start a Twitter feed on the goings-on in the class, develop an Edmodo classroom.  Involve parents early on and they will love you for it. 

5.  Decide on a cellphone policy.  Many teachers allow their use (especially for students with very limited tech support at home), but with conditions.  If you are comfortable with cellphone use, develop rules for their use in your class, and consequences for breaking those rules (clear consequences for breaking the rules). 

6.  Have extra supplies on hand for students who don’t have them.  Discreetly provide them when appropriate.  Your school may have materials for this purpose as well.  A student who lacks the basics will start the year embarrassed and that could negatively impact his/her progress in class.

We hope the year will be a great one for all of you and your students.
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