Monday, August 18, 2014

First Day of School

Well, it is that time again.  Summer is winding down.  We are exchanging swimsuits for sweaters.  Fall is nearly here which always means the start of school.

They always say a first impression lasts forever, and that cannot be overstated when referencing the beginning of school either. 

Depending on what you teach, most (if not all) of your classes will consist of students you have never met before.  These students may or may not have heard about you already.  But it is crucial to establish a good rapport with your students because they will carry their first impression of you with them for the rest of the school year.  This impression will play a huge role in how they react to you throughout the year.

Most teachers spend the first day or two taking about rules, syllabi, etc.  I always save that for at least day two, if not later (not too much later.. we only have so much time, right?).  What a breath of fresh air it will be when they enter your classroom and DON'T have to go through another syllabus (similar to the past 5 classes of the day)!  I find that waiting until day two or later, two things are accomplished.  Firstly, you give them a break from the boring day of rules and whatnot.  Secondly, when you do go over your rules and syllabus, they are much more likely to absorb it, rather than just lumping it in with all of the other classes.

I use my first day to just get to know the students and have some fun.  They each get to pick their French name and then learn how to introduce themselves.  Then, they get to explore the classroom (I always do a scavenger hunt) to figure out how to use their resources around them.  For some of my upper level students, I have them write on a slip of paper what they did over the summer (passe compose of course!) and then I draw them from a hat and students must guess who did what. Homework that night for the French 1s is to come up with three questions they want to know about me.  The following day, we go through them (and play a game with them).  I find that telling the students everything they want to know about me not only shows them that I have more of an identity than just a teacher, but also opens them up to being willing to ask questions later.  As long as the question (or the response) is school appropriate, I tell them to ask me anything!

By lightening up those first few days, students are eased into your classroom setting and your first impression is generally a good one.  That impression can last you throughout the year to hopefully have a more successful year and for them to be more receptive of you as a teacher and your authority.

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  1. Hello Madame! I have been reading your blog for a while and am so inspired. I am going to be starting student teaching French in a few weeks and your ideas are always exciting!

    In this post you mentioned playing a game with the questions your French 1 students ask of you - what is the game?

    Thank you so much!

    1. Thank you for your kind words!
      Generally on the first day of school, I will assign as homework that the students write down three questions they want to know about me. It's pretty much guaranteed points which gets them off to a good start, plus it keeps the kids from running out if ideas during the game.
      For the game itself, I just go around the room having them ask me questions. However, they each have a white board so before I answer, they have to guess my answer. If they get it right, they get a point.

      They always love it!

      Good luck student teaching! You are joining the ranks of a difficult but awesome profession.