Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Setting The Tone #edchat #T2T

I was sitting in the backyard planning out the first couple of weeks of the school year. There is always so much to think about. Which stories do I want to start the year exploring? How soon do I want my students writing their first essay? How quickly will I have to change all of my plans based on the makeup of my class? I sat staring at my Moleskine trying to decide how I wanted to start my first day of school. The traditional items popped into my head:

Go over the class syllabus.
Talk about my background as a teacher.
Discuss all the classroom procedures.
Assign seats?

I kept thinking about these common aspects to start the class and they did not sit well for me. The first day should be a reflection of the entire year. My classroom does not look like any of those traditional starting day items. I'm about projects, students sharing, laughing, being silly, and exploring learning for everyone. The tone that is set on the first day of school should mirror the class you want. If I want my students to have more ownership of the classroom, I should turn over some of the first day to them. If I want them to explore learning, I should let them explore. If I want a collaborative environment, I should let kids collaborate. This made me very excited to engage my students in a different way.

I then thought teachers coming back to the classroom to start the year. Are they going to sit in meetings and be told the rules of the school year? Is it going to be power point after power point of information that could probably be shared in an email?

Setting the tone for students is important and setting the tone for teachers is equally important. If we want students to get up and move around to learn and be excited about class, we need to do the same for teachers. We need to start the year off with some excitement and get things going in a positive way. Let the test scores and data sit for a day or two. Jump into something fun and exciting that lets teachers explore and connect with one another. Setting the tone for teachers will help set the tone for students.

This year, I will have my students build marshmallow towers. I've done this before and the students got a big kick out of it. They laughed, explored possible construction options, researched, and came together on the first day of class. It was a shared experience that they all joked about throughout the year. I look to put this in place again. Not time for the syllabus or classroom rules on the first day. Just letting my kids take over and build a tower with marshmallows. Once I've set the tone, everything else will fall into place.

School is right around the corner!

How are you going to set the tone to start your school year?

Hugs and High Fives,


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