Sunday, August 2, 2015

First Day Tried & True Linky Party

Ahhhh! As these lazy, hazy days of summer wrap most of the country in humidity,teachers are enjoying a few days to a few weeks of sleeping in, basking in the luxury of traveling to the tick tock of their own clocks, and catching up with months of saved TV shows.

The first teaching-related stress/frustration dream has yet to invade their restful sleep with images of Joey who can't sit still, of Zelda who can't stay quiet and of George who won't wake up. 

That perennial,"What will I teach the FIRST DAY?" question has yet to fuel the first of many Decision Conflicts that will crop up before students strut, shuffle or slink into the classroom. 

And after weeks of flip flops sandals, shorts and tee-shirts, the annual end-of-summer closet Search, Sort, Purge and Shop has yet to happen.

But, as surely as each and every mattress store in the country will hold continual sales, as surely as a good donut will never be local, and as surely as Downton Abbey will fade to black after the last episode of Season 6  in 2016, school bells will ring and teachers must have their alarms set, their lessons finalized and their clothes ready.

Here are 6 Tried and True Tips  to ensure a smooth transition to the 2015-2016 school year

1. As you fill your carts with pens, pencils,  paper (lined, unlined, construction etc.) and push pins, remember to toss in some presents for yourself: Kleenex, paper towels, spray cleanser and hand sanitizer. You will be glad you did about a week into the year when two-thirds of your students are suffering from the Back to School Germfest caused by too many breathing bodies in an enclosed space and the back of your nose is teasing you with its pre-cold tickle.

2. Create detailed plans for the first month- yes, the first month before the Starting Bell.  Why?
Because PLC, department and faculty meetings will consume a good deal of your contract hours.

Because Back to School night information and edicts will start filling your email and snail mail boxes before Labor Day (some BTS nights start as early as the second week of school). These will sap your planning energy with thoughts of how to prepare a welcoming and engaging presentation.

Because your students will demand your full time and attention, which is what teaching is all about in the first place, as they adjust to the new term, and because administrators will want to see how you plan to ensure each one’s proficiency.

3. Ladies- no matter how incredibly chic those new gray Zigi Soho Tasmin Peep Toe Pumps are, or how sophisticated they look with your new dove-gray pencil skirt and purple silk blouse- DO NOT WEAR THEM! Your feet will hate you until December.

4. Gentlemen-do not don your Cool Story Bro tee-shirts until your students and colleagues get your droll sense of humor.

5. Be firm but fair. If you want your charges to join you on the Learning Path, it is more important for them to view you as challenging than easy. The former means that you are poking at their minds and teasing their brains to actively respond-verbally or in writing. The latter might be construed as “I don’t care” when you want it to be interpreted as academically open-ended.

Remember no conflict exists with happily ever after. That’s why Julian Fellows had Matthew die at the end of Season 3 in Downton Abbey. Challenge leads to conflict of the positive or negative variety which leads to thinking and doing which ends in learning.

6. Create First Day activities that engage, inspire and energize discussing, thinking, and writing.  Here are two FREE lessons that have walked the walk and talked the talk of those criteria.

First Day Writing Activity - Four Corners ~ FREE 
First Day Writing Activity - Four Corners 
Students love to offer their opinions on just about any topic, to move around and to debate pros and cons with their peers. Getting them on their feet where they can share their thoughts on a variety of contemporary topics is crucial in creating an atmosphere that promotes evaluating ideas and supporting their own assertions with valid points. The Four Corners Activity covers all of those bases.

First Day Writing Assignment-Revised ~ FREE
First Day Writing Assignment-Revised 
This activity offers teachers a baseline of each student’s writing skills. After analyzing each piece of writing, teachers will have the basic foundation for their year’s writing program.  The ideas are student-friendly, and offer a smooth transition from summer to the classroom because it  awakens students thinking, analyzing and writing skills.

For all of you who will be leading classrooms this year, revel in these last few days/weeks of your time- your way.

And when those school bells ring...
Enjoy a Teach It Now Day, Every Day.

Thank you to Chrissie Rissmiller  and
Sarah Tighe for organizing this Linky Party.

Undercover ClassroomEducation Electrification

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