Monday, August 25, 2014

Are You Ready for the School Day?

"A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open."                                                                                                         ~ Frank Zappa

  Let the countdown begin! I’ve looked over my class rosters and noted the full sections. I breezed through the names, overjoyed at the ones returning and anticipating the new students. The first day of school is a week away. Let me ask you: Are you ready?

            Room-wise, I’m not. We’re actually moving back into our recently remodeled school tomorrow and the following two days. During that time I need to get my room set up, my books together for the students, figure out a new filing system and set up my cool, homemade magnetic Scrabble board. Plus get all the administrative duties done that seem intertwined with my profession.
            Anyway, school looms only a week away. My thoughts recently have traveled the pirate way. How do I want to start my class? What atmosphere  do I want to create? Do I want to take time to get to know my kids or do I just jump into school. Questions, questions, questions…
            One way I want to start the day is with loud music playing a Cage the Elephants song (yes, this is a real band). I’m still debating which one. Once we listen to it we’ll analyze it orally. Discussing each verse, wrangling over meaning, and coming to a conclusion. When we’re finished I reward my students with something, congratulating them on their first successful poetry analysis in my classroom.
            I may also borrow a Dave Burgess idea and bring in play dough. From this students may mold the clay into something representative of them or their summer….school appropriate, of course. That way I can get to know them and how their summers went. However, I may use my computer and type in words they shout out about their summer and we’ll create word art which I will  print and display.

      I know how I’m NOT going to start the day.Hopefully, none of you will either
          
            Hilarious as this scene is, too many classrooms are run this way. Note the waves of excitement in the classroom. Oh wait, not waves of excitement and engagement. Waves that suffocate. This teacher is going under—fast. He is the exact opposite of how I want my classroom to function.
            So what about you? Have you thought of good strategy to connect with your students from the first minute they enter the door? Have you planned where you’ll stand, what you’ll say, how you’ll say it and what you want the atmosphere to be?
            The last week of school is when I solidify the ideas swirling in my mind, firming up what I’ll be doing and why. I may have them play people bingo so they get to know their classmates. Really, the ideas are endless. With a few well-placed gift cards, I have no doubt my students will participate, with gusto.
            Let’s just hope I have a similar attitude this week as I finish setting the stage for opening day. I want to finish the same way my students did—with gusto.

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