Back to School

Posted: August 30, 2012 in Teaching

It had been a while since I posted about teaching. Then again it has been a while since that has been my main focus. During the summer I always do a small revamp of my classes but it is not nearly as on my mind as when I am in the classroom.

Anyway, enough of that stupid chatter. I want to share with you my opening of school plan that I have successfully used for the past five years. This has worked well for me and you may find some bits and pieces useful for you as well.

The first days of school really set the stage for the rest of the year. An unplanned and chaotic beginning will find itself repeated throughout the year if one is not careful. On the first day of classes I have every student enter and go to their assigned seat. On the way in they are instructed to pick up the opening day packet from the handout table and to then start on the At The Bell assignment on the board. The first one of the year is more of an icebreaker. When the bell rings I inform the class that everyone should be working quietly on the ATB assignment. When the appropriate time comes I tell them to put down their pens and then I will take attendance. For the rest of the year I take attendance during the ATB time. There is an ATB everyday in some form or another. It may be review of old information, a preview of new information or even a thought provoking question. It is important to go over the ATB regularly so that it holds some value.

WIth the class opened up successfully I then go into an opening day presentation. I share a little about myself and the course. I then go into the basic classroom procedures that make the class run. THESE ARE NOT RULES. They cover important moments like the beginning of class procedures (paper pick up and ATB), handing in of classwork procedures, asking questions procedure and a few others. I can share them if you like, but you need to think about what you need to make your class run smoothly. I then do several small things to practice these procedures. I have them hand in their ATB papers, take a break to share with each other and then come to attention according to that procedure, etc.

As we near the end of the first day I remind the students to remain seated at the bell. I dismiss the class, not the bell ringing. This makes it known that I am the authority is mine in the classroom and that it must be observed.

These and other procedures are rehearsed regularly early on to condition everyone. Then it becomes automatic and I find that regular action in the class run smoother. Having a set of procedures that the students can follow can actually eliminate situations where discipline are necessary. I add other procedures throughout the year as the situations arise. Again, let me know if you want a detailed list. I will put it up on Saturday if I get the time (It’s my birthday weekend).

To conclude, I open up the school year by immediately putting in place the structure I need. There is plenty of time for fun, even on the opening day, but if the structure is not there first then I am only asking for trouble later.

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