Tuesday, September 1, 2015

And They're Off

      Successful first days like the one I had yesterday don't come around too often. Although a bit disjointed in my first period, I was much smoother in the first day spiel my second period. The big surprise for me was the willingness in which my students engaged in the activities I planned.
      Not too many at-risk teens mess with Play Dough. But they did in my room yesterday. We watched a bit of Jim Gaffigan as the students molded the clay into something that revealed who they were or what they did this summer. And then they talked about their creations with me and others in the class. Usually my room is a tomb on the first day as most kids are new and few know each other. Yesterday's work with Play Dough smashed down the silence.
      We also participated in a speed dating activity...with books. Another surprise. Students couldn't decide what they wanted to read in a good way. One told me I had given them too many sick choices. I knew I had them.
      Once we had the books, we went back to class and they actually asked if they could read. "Sure, knock yourself out," I told them. So we all read for twenty minutes. Later, when it was time to start getting into coursework, some kids surreptitiously opened their books and kept reading, hoping I wouldn't see them.
       Because kids are in class for three hours daily, I don't ask them to take work home. Yet, I had students begging me to please let them do school work at home. Okay, seriously, when does that happen? I'm saying, it was a surreal sight I should have recorded for later doses of needed encouragement.
       All this to say teaching never gets old. Students never stop surprising me. And preparation helps. But mostly kids respond to teachers. How do I approach the first day? How do I approach them? What kind of vibe do I give off to my kids? All of these are great influences in forming students' reactions to the teacher. To me.  IF I have my stuff together, chances are my kids will respond positively. They can tell I put time and effort into them, into preparing for them.
      Well, today is Day 2. Will the honeymoon continue? I'd like to think so. Talking to students and showing you're interested in them goes a long way toward extending the honeymoon. I can't wait to get to school today and watch my students engage themselves in my classes. I' fairly confident it will happen.
      There will be set backs during the block, but I know one thing for sure today. My students got out of the gate well and are off and running. That's all I can ask...for now.

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