Aug 26, 2009
Make a great first impression. Every teacher starts the first day of school with introductions, but teachers don’t usually tell the students much about themselves. Start your introductions with you as the centerpiece. Bring in a decorate box with photos of your favorite pet, actor or musician. It is a good idea to tell the students a lot about yourself but don’t tell them anything too personal. You want them to humanize with you from the beginning. They will sprinkle the conversation with comments about their household related to your likes and dislikes.
Build self-esteem. Adolescents suffer from major self-esteem issues. They enjoy being around people that make them feel good about themselves. On the first day of school, give them a good dose of self-esteem. After getting the typical paper work and introductions out of the way, begin a reflection exercise. To do this exercise you will need mirrors. You can get inexpensive mirrors from any dollar store. Have the students pair up and reflect about themselves in the mirrors. Make them write down ten positive things about themselves and their partner and then discuss them as a group in class. They will pretend to not have any thing to write about at first, but once you’ve nudged them along, the compliments will start flowing freely.
Build confidence. Build confidence with “The Burial” exercise. At the burial, you will have your students write down their biggest fears on a sheet of paper. Their fears can be related to school or not. Let them know that all their fears will be faced and overcame during the year. Dig a whole outside in a designated spot - approved by the principal of course – for the burial. Then, have students come up to the front of the grave site and bury their fears. They’ll surely talk about this tonight at the dinner table. This is a good thing, because you want as much of the first day of school on their minds that night. This will give them something to look forward to tomorrow. Now, they are excited about attending school.
Nurture mutual respect. The formation of cliques in middle school is a typical adolescent annoyance that can demolish all of the hard work and energy you put in building morale in your classroom. The same way you want students to humanize with you as a teacher is the same way you want them to humanize with each other. Bullying by cliques has been a problem for educators from the beginning of time, but with a little effort, you can lessen the effects of bullying in your classroom by nurturing mutual respect. On the first day of school, have your students spend a great deal of time getting to know each other. Allow them an hour to socialize. Encourage them to talk to each other about their favorite music, films and clothes. Stress the importance of speaking to every student in the class while taking notes. After social hour is over, have them share what they know about each other. Give the child who knows the most about each student a prize. Building bonds of affection will lessen the effects of a clique war later in the school year.
Offer independence. After socializing and learning more about each other, give students individual responsibilities by assigning classroom jobs. Running your classroom like a corporation makes them feel like adults. Since everyone knows more about each other, it becomes easier to figure out who will run messages to the office, who will set up the TV and DVD player for classroom movies, who will collect money for field trips and who will keep notes on classroom projects. Let everyone comment and on each other’s strengths and weaknesses again fostering compassion.
Don’t forget the rules! Classroom management is one of the most important parts of teaching, if not the most. If you do not have authority with your students, everything you’ve worked hard for will go out the window. They have to respect you, so be stern but fair. If you do not lay the rules down on the first day of school, the James Dean effect will start to soak in the fabric of your classroom.
Keep the lines of communication open. In the movie Mean Girls, Tina Fey’s character, Ms. Norbury, brought the entire female student body in the gym to air their grievances after a colossal misunderstanding on campus. When the girls realized how much they had in common, they began to sympathize with each other and empower themselves. Middle school students will absolutely do the same with open lines of communication. Invest in a “The Hot Seat”. The hot seat is just an ottoman used as a special chair. You know as well as any teacher does that students love sitting in special chairs. At the end of the first day of school, introduce your hot seat. Have each student sit in the hot seat and tell what he or she enjoyed most about the first day. Whenever convenient, revisit the hot seat by having students share their grievances and comments during the year discussing ways to improve the classroom environment. Let them know on the first day that this will take place occasionally giving them something to look forward to and making them feel like they an investment in the class.
Posted by Jane at Wednesday, August 26, 2009 |