Day one is in the books. My feet are tired and I had cereal for supper, but that’s okay. Right?

I don’t know how a lot of other people feel about the first day of school, but for me its a love-hate relationship. I love the fact that I get to greet a whole new group of students and introduce them to me wackiness. I love surprising them by being different than other “first-day” classes. I hate that I never get through what I have planned. I hate that it wears me out.

This term I have three Algebra 2 classes (1 regular, 2 honors) and a prob/stats class. After the requisite roll-call I had the students complete a group activity to break the ice and get them into the spirit of collaboration. In prob/stats we started discussing Kristen Gilbert (thanks @druinok and @approx_normal) but didn’t get very far with it. I had hoped for more discussion and interest from them, but they didn’t really seem as into it as I am. I’m hoping tomorrow will be better when we start looking at the data and drawing some conclusions. Algebra 2 started the “RoCo” activity (I think the technical name is “datelines”…thanks @Mathalicious) and again, we didn’t get as far as I wanted. They did enjoy the discussion and seem to be interested in the activity though. So I’ll count that as a win.

Now, here’s the real meat of this post. One of my favorite elements of my first-day classes is the feedback I get from the students. At the beginning of class I give them a sheet of paper to fold in half lengthwise (hot dog style, for all you paper folders) Then we cut one of those halves into thirds.

2013-08-07 17.57.302013-08-07 17.57.44                    On the uncut half they write their name, then draw 4-5 images that help me know them better. Most of them hate this, but I think its a good icebreaker for some of the vocabulary and notebook stuff I want them to do later in the term. They label each of the flaps on the cut-side with the days of the first week (we meet on Wednesday, Thursday, & Friday). At the end of class I give them a couple of minutes to write down anything they want to or ask any question they feel like asking. The first year I thought this would just be a nice way to kill a few minutes before the bell rang, but after I got home and looked at them I discovered that my students had a lot of stuff they wanted to know about me, my classroom, my life, etc and this allowed them to ask. 

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Most of the comments are the same.

I wonder if there will be a lot of homework.

I wonder if I will do well in this class.

I wonder why you have such weird clocks.

I wonder what we will learn this year.

Every once in a while I get something truly unique.

I wonder what your favorite wing flavor is at Buffalo Wild Wings.

I wonder if your feet hurt after wearing those shoes all day.

Here’s the part of this whole process that makes it work for me any my kids. I read every. single. one. and write SOMETHING on every. single. one. For three nights in a row. Most of the comments are standard, canned phrases.

       I hope so.

You will get the grade according to the effort you put into the class.

Yes. You will have homework.

Yay! (for those kids who are brown-nosers and think i want them to tell me how great my class is going to be)

Occasionally I get to answer interesting questions. Occasionally. But every student gets a comment. Or a return question. Every night. For three nights in a row.

Does it require a lot of my time? Not a crazy lot, but I have almost 120 kids so it doesn’t get done in 10 minutes.

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Is it hard? Not really. There are some comments/questions that are difficult to respond to, but not many. Is it worth it? ABSO-FREAKIN-LUTELY. My kids get a little bit of one-on-one time with me. Even if its just to say “Good idea.” They know I’ve read their thoughts. And made them feel important to me. From day one.

Yeah. That’s a win in my book.