Here we go. . . The first ten days of school:
1. Build a community! Talk about strengths and weakness of all the classmates. Stress that you are a classroom–a family of learners. Do many activities that promote co operative learning, communication, listening, etc. Activities can be found in TRIBES and James Leslie’s Camp Adventure manual.
2. Teach procedures for success at school. Where do you put belongings? When and how to sharpen pencils? When to interrupt teacher? When NOT to interrupt teacher:), Where to get supplies and tools? Where to put finished work? Where to put homework and notes from home?
3. Start a Job Chart. . . teach a couple of jobs each day so that students can walk in and get started independently at the beginning of school. NOT COPY WORK! You will be able to check homework, meet with students, take attendance without interruption. The next day, review previous jobs and add two more. Jobs can be based on standards and skills: Science, Soc Studies, Math, Language Arts. Workshop Way had jobs by grade level that I used for years. . . then I tweaked them.
4. Discuss bullying. . . what it is and what it isn’t. Why it happens and how to respond as a bystander. Lester Laminack has a book, Bullying, with the five stages and mentor text to use with each.
5. Tattling. . . no need for it! You need to know if someone is hurt or property is destroyed. . . what to do, how to handle, art of walking away!
6. What to do when you think you are finished with an assignment or project. . . how do you know you are finished? Job time is great for those to go to when others are finishing up, but make sure they aren’t in a hurry to do that, and not finish the assignments.
7. Teacher/Student conference time and place. . . important conversations whether it is in Reading, Writing, Math, Sc/Soc time. Private area that you can meet individually. You may have a conference area that would allow meeting with small group. Teach the difference.
8. DEAR time is important. Teach students how to select just write books for their tubs. I had mine select 4 and they kept them for the week. We talked about practicing basketball and baseball and doing some of the skills over and over again. Reading a book over again will make us stronger too. I would drop a couple in their boxes . . just to make they had some that were truly just right. My library was sectioned off: LA area, Science Area, Social STudies Area, Fiction, Non Fiction and Poetry areas. Getting them back in the right section was always a challenge.
9. Writer’s Notebook. . . the purpose of this is for the student to be able to write whatever they want here. . . seeds of stories to plant, ideas that may or may not grow into stories. It is NOT a journal for prompts. It is NOT a reader’s response notebook.
10. Begin the day with a positive greeting to welcome them to school. They need to feel safe and loved during this time. End the day with DEAR time, discussing the joys of the day, reading to them. . . a calm and positive time to get ready to face the bus ride or home life. . . it can be a tough world out there.
Your first ten days are the most important of the year! . . Be simple, be kind, be supportive, be a community of learners including the teacher! Have a great year!!