It amazes me how teachers can blog regularly. They have way more organization and discipline than I do. I’m seriously impressed. We have been in school 3 weeks and my last blog was from during our Pre-Service training. Whoops.
I really loved how we started school this year. Our admin gathered some students to ask “How Might We Improve the First Day of School?” What the students put together was great! They wanted breakfast together, to go to all classes (we have a rotating schedule), and to play icebreakers in class. That was perfect for me because I was definitely not doing the syllabus the first day and was planning on get to know you stuff. Pretty much everything below is from others, but I don’t remember who! If anyone actually reads this blog and knows where it came from, let me know and I’ll give credit!
In Algebra 1, the students lined up by birthday and then had to answer math questions to pick their seats. This got them talking to each other right away, which was good because we had several freshman who didn’t come from our middle school and were new. Then, they had to do some simple math and think quickly on their feet.
In both Geometry Honors & Algebra II Honors, the students were given a notecard with a math exercise on it. Each desk had a sticky note on it with a solution to an exercise. They had to solve the exercise and then find the desk that matched their solution. That would be their seat for our first Unit. This went great too!
Throughout the first week, students took an online Get To Know You questionnaire (including top 3 favorite songs for a class playlist), the ATMI (Attitude Towards Mathematics Inventory), took a pre-test (and will take a post-test at the end of the year to measure growth), played icebreaker games, filled out Dan Meyer’s Who I Am sheet, and added their ideas on sticky notes to 6 posters: We are a Team, We respect each other, We celebrate other’s successes, We learn from our mistakes, What I want in a teacher, and a passage from John on loving one another.
We spent a lot of time talking about task and maintenance and we even had a little maintenance station in class (it needs more candy right now!). To emphasize #failup, they worked in their groups (my desks are in groups of 4) on large whiteboards to make exactly one mistake when completing a math exercise. Then the other students tried to analyze and find mistakes. We practiced asking “Why” questions that didn’t give away the answer. That was tons of fun. Some groups made more than one mistake on accident – oops! Some people thought correct work was a mistake – oops! But it was all good. And we learned that failure isn’t the end, we will all fail at times, and we can analyze our failures and the failure of others to not repeat it in the future.
Eventually we got to the syllabus, grading info, and content that is in my Learning Outcomes. (BTW, I “flipped” the syllabus & grading info. Students read it at home on a Google Doc and posted comments and questions on the docs for us to discuss in class.) I feel like this has been my best beginning of the school year ever. I’m so glad we spent that week focusing on the soft skills, building trust, and getting to know each other.
We are now almost 3 weeks in – I love my job! I love my students! I love my colleagues! And I love my school!