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.
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.
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.
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.