I’ll be on hiatus for the next couple of days, as football has started two-a-days. For coaches, this means getting up early and going to bed late. I may have some time over the weekend to write, but you never know.
That said, however, I recently read this post on The Doc Is In about the first day of class. The Doc wrote that, “I have the students take the first ten minutes to write down any questions they have about me or the class on 2″ by 2″ pieces of paper. They can ask anything they want and do not put their names on the slips of paper. I don’t have to answer a question, but it’s rare to get an inappropriate question. The kids drop their slips of paper into my Mariners cap and away we go.”
I really liked this idea so I thought I would ask others: what’s the best activity you’ve done on the first days of school to get to know your students and help them get to know each other?
Via huffenglish (who also used the idea), Casting Out Nines – a higher ed math and technology blog – posted a “Fall Preview” that details what courses he will be teaching and some of the ideas and issues he’ll be dealing with as he begins the new school year.
Since I like the idea, and I appreciate the need for clear context in order to fully understand a particular position, I thought I would (in true teacher fashion) “borrow” their idea. One thing to mention, as CO9s does: most posts will have to do with the instructional issues I face and observations I make about education and teaching in general. Going into my second year of teaching, it’s more important to me to develop a better understanding of instructional practices, classroom management strategies, and methods of integrating technology into the classroom than it is to share stories about teachers and students at my school (who’d have guessed?). That said and “borrowing” even the formatting of the post from the aforementioned bloggers), here goes:
- I’ll be teaching (I think) one class this year: 9th grade English. This is basically the same curriculum I taught last year, except that our rehearsal/review novel has been replaced with a more difficult one (and that’s a good change). The best part about this for me is that I get a chance to improve on what I did last year in terms of assessment, instruction, and management. This is very exciting for me.
- Our district is on a block scheduling system, which means I see a class of students for 105 minutes every other day. Rather than having a couple of major writer’s workshop units, I (and several other tecahers) will be spending about half of each class period on writing and about half on reading. Obviously, I still get to spend about 50 minutes on each every day we have class, which is fantastic. I plan on trying to use a lot of the ideas I’ve been learning about from Write Beside Them, as well as another writing curriculum.
- One of my new roles is that of a teacher leader in technology development. I’ll be spending time with a couple of colleagues coming up with ways to help develop teachers’ understanding and use of technology in their classrooms. Much of what we’ll do will be in response to teacher requests – for example, if a teacher wants to figure out how to integrate technology into a particular lesson or unit, our job will be to provide them with some options. I’m really looking forward to this new role.
- My other major new role will be that of assistant coach with our 9th grade football team. Last year I had the privilege of helping out with the baseball team, and this year I get to help with my favorite sport.
That will likely put the majority of my experiences into a better context for those few that read whatever strange ideas I happen to write. I sincerely hope other bloggers I subscribe to do something like this, so I have a better idea of how similar their experiences are to mine. I’m looking forward to going through a school year reading several edublogs full of ideas, strategies, and resources that I can “borrow.”