The First Week

If you told me a week ago that I had absolutely nothing to worry about and that the first week of my student teaching will be the best time I have ever had in the classroom – I would have said, “Umm, you’re just saying that because it is the scariest thing I have ever done and I am hyperventilating just thinking about it …” Well, past Alexandra – and anyone else who might be freaking out about this next step – calm down! Student Teaching is an experience that is better than any other experience you have in the classroom.

Part of this great experience is starting in the Fall. It is great time being able to get to know these kids while they are getting to know each other and the new classroom. With that, this week has shown me more than anything how important building a team identity within your classroom and among your students.

With my 6th grade classroom, my host teacher and I are teaching Social Studies and Mathematics. Our cooperating teacher is teaching Language Arts and Science. We have home room  for the first ten minutes of the day and after a couple of days of getting to know the kids, we broke them up into two different groups (Brown and Gold) somewhat randomly, but keeping an equal of our home room  and his home room . Within these groups, they travel to their core classes together so making sure these groups come together as a team is very important.

Things I want to take away from the First Week of School are these:

Day One:

  • Ice breakers, ice breakers, ice breakers! Make sure you know the names of the students by the end of the day.
  • Introduce yourself. Make yourself seem like a human being, instead of the robot at the front of the room.
  • Establish a “TEAM” persona. Talk about what it means to work together and the importance of being a unit. “We may not all be BFFs, but we are a family. You don’t always get along with your family, but you always stick up for your family”
  • Teach Expectations! You cannot automatically assume your students are going to know how to walk down the hall the right way. Display the correct way to do things for; line forming (left toe to left heel), bathrooms, cafeteria, playground, bus lines, blurting out, hall passes, etc.
  • Student Intro Activity. Have students make a ‘people poster’ so they are able to brag about themselves and bring in pictures that make them proud of who they are.

Day Two:

  • Go over behavior issues or expectations that need work. Re-address line forming, etc.
  • More team building activities/get-to-know-yous; People BINGO, Find Someone Who …, Two Truths and a Lie
  • Work on ‘People Posters’ more.
  • Team building motivational movie. It is a nice break for the second day of school and gets them even more motivated to be on a team – debrief movie after. Stress the importance again.

Day Three:

  • Go over room procedures; hall passes, pencil sharpening, blurting out, etc.
  • Tour of the room; what is off limits, where do you turn things in, borrowing books, etc.
  • Give class jobs to students who want them; trash, collect papers, clean board, line leader, end of line, attendance
  • Play “Guess Who” with students to get to see similarities and differences.
  • Name games outside. Get better acquainted with names and do it outside!
  • Give breaks – a lot! The first couple days are a lot of being talked at – give them breaks!
  • More teacher introductions; quiz, crossword puzzle

Day Four:

  • Starting core subjects, give a pre-test so you can assess where students are
  • Pass around “What I want my teacher to know about me” sheet
  • Measure students to show their growth at the end of the year (tape on the locker marking their heights then take their picture to compare to the end of the year, use a piece of string)
  • Address planner/agenda/homework policy

The days go by really quickly. Not once this week did I ever dread coming to school. I really enjoy my students too! Being able to say these things reassure me that I can totally do this ‘teaching thing’ for the rest of my life 😉 You are supposed to do what you love, right?