It’s almost here. You teachers know what I mean. It’s that bittersweet time of year. Bitter, because we have to pack away our swim suits and all of those half-finished projects we were so gung-ho about at the beginning of summer (yes, I’m talking to you :)). Sweet, because it’s time for a fresh start–a new beginning. It’s time to celebrate the biggest annual holiday for us–The Teacher New Year.
When I first started teaching, a colleague told me, “You will be depressed about everything you didn’t do over the summer the night before pre-planning. You will want to make that last day of summer something to look forward to.”
“Whatever,” I thought. “How can anything about two months off be depressing?”
But you know what? He was right. The night before the first day of pre-planning for my second year teaching, I was miserable. I hadn’t read that stack of books on my night stand. I hadn’t planted my herb garden or organized the garage. How had I let the time get away from me?
My husband is not one to let me wallow, and believe me, I was wallowing. So he turned the whole day into a celebration. At my colleague’s advice, we began celebrating “Pre-Planning Eve.” We have a cookout, give gifts, etc. Now it’s a day to look forward to.
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But in the much anticipated time between now and Pre-planning Eve, I find myself thinking more and more about that most sacred of holidays, The Teacher New Year–known in wider circles as, The First Day of School.
It’s time for a brand new adventure yet again, and I’ve found that what I do on the first day sets the tone for the entire year. I will officially be embarking on my 13th “Teacher New Year” in one week, and I’ve messed up enough to figure out what makes for a great start! At least, I hope that’s what I’ve gotten out of it :). Here’s some advice I’ve picked up over the years to make that first day meaningful:
- Lay out all classroom guidelines clearly and briefly.
- Get to know each student as an individual.
- Encourage all students to get to know each other.
- I place questions on cards.
- Each student gets a card.
- They move about the room.
- I play music.
- When the music stops, they turn to the student next to them, ask their question and get the answer.
- Their partner does the same.
- They swap cards, and continue moving about the room.
- We repeat this for 5 minutes (or longer).
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I hope this was helpful! I wish you luck and fun on your teaching adventure!