Anyhow, sitting at my computer I decided to make a LIST of things I want to do the first week of school. This is what I have so far (in no specific order...yet...):
- Put a letter from last year's students on each student desk (I have the students write a personalized "letter to the future" at the end of the year each June and I keep them to put out on the first day of school)
- Give each student the "Back to School Survival Kit" I have made for them (I still need to assemble these but I have all the materials)
- Put the "Back to School Activity Guide" I have created on their desk for the first day
- Have students complete the "Classroom Scavenger Hunt"
- Do the "Find Someone Who" bingo game
- Have students complete the "6 Questions for the Beginning of the Year" activity with post-its (saw this on Pinterest)
- Review my "Back to School" Powerpoint with the whole class
- Do a KWL activity about Ms. McKay (I read a post about this idea on TeacherHub.com and decided to adapt it) using the Show What You Know quiz I made up
- Give each student a math pre-assessment test
- Have students play a math matching game I found online (going to use this as an icebreaker for the students and a diagnostic tool for me)
- Show students how to organize their binders
In the meantime, I made up a Show What You Know quiz to go along with a "KWL about your teacher" activity I'm going to try this year.
I always do the traditional "getting to know you" activities with my students but I have stopped doing the "get to know your teacher" activities I used to love. I'm not sure why I stopped doing these. I had a great "All About Me" book I created when I first started teaching. I used to share it with my class each year. It was always a HUGE hit with my students and they loved to look at the pictures of my family and read about my life. I never did update that book...I used it for a few years and then it was out of date. I still have it, and I sometimes pull it out to show the students what I used to look like (now that is depressing...was I EVER that young?).
I was reflecting this summer on what has made for a "good year" in my teaching career. What made a year feel special? What made a year "magical"? I realized those years have been the years I have really bonded with my students and developed strong rapport.
They were NOT the years I felt pressured to deal with "behaviour issues" or to focus right away on assessing and testing. NOT the years when the first thing I did was LAY DOWN THE LAW and get down to work.
It is tempting with a jam packed curriculum and EQAO testing in May/June to try to spend each and every minute teaching. I think I have fallen prey to the "we have to get it done" mentality the past few years. In my heart though, I know that I can get it done and also establish stronger rapport with my students. In fact, "it" gets done BETTER when you the time to develop that rapport, to let the students know who you are and to find out who they are. To that end, I am going to try a few "new" ideas this year and spend more time getting to know my class and letting them get to know a little bit more about me.
One idea I read on TeacherHub.com was to conduct a KWL activity with the class making YOURSELF the topic. I have used the KWL (and KWHL) format for many years in a variety of situations. I am a firm believer in activating prior knowledge and uncovering misconceptions when teaching. It really helps guide where I am going to go with my lessons and my planning. I realize that over the last couple of years that I didn't really take the time to let my students learn about me as a person, to ask questions about me and perhaps expose some misconceptions. Today I created a little "fun" Show What You Know quiz to go with the KWL activity. This will give the students a guided way to think about the K part of the activity. Hopefully, it will illicit positive responses. I am willing to deal with the "misconceptions" that are uncovered as well. Please feel free to download a copy from my TPT store by clicking on the links above.
Another reason I want to try this is that as part of my board's Gifted Programming we need to address the skills and knowledge of "Awareness of Self and Others". One subsection of this area is "interactive skills" and another is "interpersonal skills". I think using this type of activity will set the stage for later work I will do in this area as part of the gifted program in grade six.
If you try this activity with your class let me know how it goes for you!