Countdown to Day 1

Posted on August 2, 2015


Just in case the first day of school is a madhouse (no way!), I decided to post my plans.

Mostly so I can have the illusion of control, because everything is going to go perfectly!
Actually, I want to look back to see if what I said I would do actually came true. It’s sort of like maybe waking up and finding out that your wish came true. It could happen!

Here we go…

All classes will do the same thing tomorrow, mostly because I don’t know any of my students. I am aware of the existence of some of my Statistics seniors (translation: I’ve seen/heard their names before), but that is only 40 of 220 students. Let’s see…rounding…nope! I don’t know any of my students.

I will do @GWaddellNVHS’ high fives as they come in. My hallmate and physics teacher John said that he loved the plan too, so the upstairs-back-hall will be known as the High Five Hall.

The kiddos have all instructions (I hope they’re complete!) on three whiteboards.

They will pick up a nametag (I bought goofy animal ones from Oriental Trading Company), two or three Post-Its, and a marker. Music will be playing to start…perky teenagery songs (Ne-Yo’s “Let’s Go”, Katie Perry’s “Firework”, and “Uptown Funk”). I am using @MrVaudrey’s advice to let the “music be the asshole”, so by the end of “Uptown Funk”…and that is one of the things written on the board…the kiddos need to cross their names off of the attendance list that will be projected on the screen (the blank spots will tell me who is actually absent).

After Uptown Funk ends, attendance will be marked and the projector will be turned off.

They have four tasks to finish after that, and they can do them in any order:

1. Use the (dark) marker to write their name (legibly) on the nametag, and put it on their shirt. Or shoulder. Or face. 🙂
2. Answer five questions on the notecard. The questions (and my answers as an example) are posted on one whiteboard:
What is your name according to the roster? (Laura Akahoshi)
What is your preferred name? (Mrs. Akahoshi)
Write a pronunciation guide for your name. (Missus Ah-Kah-Ho-She)
Tell me something that is interesting about you. (My “blood” is mostly Viking: mainly Irish, some Swedish, with a dash of Italian. I am not Japanese. I stole Akahoshi when I got married.)
Tell me something about you that would surprise someone who doesn’t already know you but saw you walking down the hall. (I am an ACE-certified aerobics instructor)

The “preferred name” is for nicknames AND for the kiddos who have hyphenated or otherwise multiple last names; they can tell me which one they want me to use.

3. Bring the completed notecard up to me, and, with your nametag on, have a picture taken.

I’m doing this because I have 220 names to learn and the students only have 7 AND the official pictures haven’t ever gotten to us before October AND I know it drives the kiddos crazy that their teachers don’t know who they are AND I know they’ll hate it even though they are selfie royalty AND I have no desire to use them for anything but learning names. Of course, they think we should learn who they all are before the first day is over…

4. On the Post-It, write (one per Post-It, so get more if you need them) characteristics of a classroom environment that you can learn in. Work individually at first, then compare with your small group.
Move the furniture if needed.
In the small group, choose up to three of the best ones. After those three (no more than 3! I feel like I’m having a Monty Python and the Holy Grail moment) are selected by the group, put all contributors’ names on the back and put them on the large sheet of paper that is taped to the board labeled Period ___.

This method was part of @AlexOverwijk and @MaryBourassa’s awesome morning sessions at #TMC15. I am going to use what they contribute to establish the classroom rules; hopefully they feel that they have a voice.

Besides, my one rule is open to much abuse:
Do what you are SUPPOSED to do. Be nice. Be curious. Work hard.

I’ve heard that the kiddos make much stricter rules than teachers. I’ll let you know.

I will start some sort of “Clean-Up” music at the end of class. I’m not sure which song yet.

If there is a time gap between the kiddos being done and the start of the Clean-Up song, I will find out if anyone has questions.

So why am I not calling attendance and telling the kiddos what they can and cannot do?
Because it is boring. And, with the exception of First Period, the kiddos will have been listening to that exact thing all day.
Besides, I use Google Classroom and iPads. Just getting those procedures in place will take at least two days. If I tell them any of that stuff on the first day, (a) the kiddos who are present will either not remember or they don’t want to hear it again because (b) a large group of students aren’t going to be there (“Nothing ever happens on the first day!”)

I hope my plan (wish) comes true!
I’ll tell that story tomorrow.

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