Off to another school year. For most of us, this means rethinking how we do things with a head full of idealism and pragmatism: "this will be the year I really do it right". Or maybe that's just me. Regardless, one cannot deny that Harry Wong was right in emphasizing the importance of The First Days of School. What happens at the beginning of the year and at the beginning of the class should not be overlooked, and here's what some experts say about it:
In summary, your students should familiarize themselves with a structured routine for the beginning of each period. The rationale here is obvious. It sends the message that a) time is important and not to be wasted, and b) we're here to learn.
According to Doug Lemov, in his book that every teacher should own, Teach Like a Champion, some tips to get this routine developed include:
- Have materials ready for students to pick up for that day, in the same place every day. This is better than the teacher passing them out later, and taking the time to do so while trying to explain things.
- Assigned seats. Every student should know where they're sitting and go straight there.
- Homework basket. If applicable, students can immediately deposit their homework into a homework receptacle near the door.
- Bell Ringer Activity (a.k.a "Do Now") This is a 3 - 5 minute activity that supplements what is going on in the curriculum. Students should know where to find it and should not need any explanation as to how to do it, so the teacher is free to take attendance or address a specific need etc...
These are some summarized bullet points taken from the experts whose job it is to teach us how to be more effective as educators. Consider them, try them, write home about them, and see what you can learn.