Are you planning your first two weeks to set students up for success? I had a few bumpy years that helped me learn my mistakes and help make these weeks the ones to get my classroom up and running.
My 5th year of teaching I learned how important those first two weeks of school are. My district sent me to a special training the first three days of school and my class was off for the rest of the year. Yep 177 days of craziness. If I could go back in time I would have started at square one the day that I got back and here is what I would do (and what I did every year after).
- Over Plan! For these weeks type out every little detail in your head. Type out what to say, how to act, each little step of your plan. You have a lot of ideas in your head and you new little darlings will probably spend some time still tired from two months of sleeping in, they don’t know your quirks yet, and some will just be completely clueless. On top of that you will have those who haven’t seen their friends in two months and will take every low moment to talk. Keep them busy, keep them moving, and always have more stuff than you can fit in one day. Take a minute throughout the day to cross off everything you have done or said. The more detailed you are these first few weeks, the better they get to know you, what you expect, and how you want them to do things. You can find more tips in The Ultimate Guide to Starting the School Year: 29 Things Teachers Need to Know Before the First Day (and there are lots of freebies!)
- Build a Team. This is probably the most important one of all. If you class isn’t working as a team then you are going to spend more time dealing with behavior and classroom management issues. I know as teachers we cringe when someone says “ice breaker.” But here’s the thing, your students don’t. They LOVE it! The more things you can do to have them working together, and getting to know other students outside of their normal group, the better your class will learn and function.
- Create Easy Bulletin Boards for Student Work. I am sure your school has expectations for getting student work up ASAP. Make 1-2 bulletin boards that are already up and waiting for student work. Transformations are great starters for writing in the first two weeks. Read, how Transformations Can Improve Student Writing to learn more. You can also get more writing lessons here.
- Focus on your Procedures. Just as real estate is about location, location, location, then first two weeks of school should be all about procedures, procedures, procedures. Yes, you are going to have to repeat yourself 5,000 times. The students will practice over and over. And you will at some point think, how in the world can learning to sharpen a pencil, get out a book, or put an assignment in the right place be that hard! Just breathe, relax, and get another cup of coffee. They will get it and once you start your 3rd week of school things will start moving forward. Want more ideas, read 4 Fun Ways to Ensure They Know What You Expect.
What strategies do you use the first weeks of school to set your class on the path to success? Want more ideas on starting the school year?
For more Teacher Talk check out these other posts.