Changing the First Day: High School

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by That Business Guy, Jul 8, 2018.

  1. That Business Guy

    That Business Guy Rookie

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    Jul 8, 2018

    The first day of the new school year is three weeks out (for me anyway) and I am curious as to what you have changed over the years to make your first day of school better, more meaningful, and smoother.

    Please leave your feedback of what you have changed over the years (tips, tricks, strategies, techniques, activities, etc.) to have a great first day of school.

    Thanks!
     
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  3. vickilyn

    vickilyn Virtuoso

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    Jul 9, 2018

    Do you have specific needs or desires?
     
  4. That Business Guy

    That Business Guy Rookie

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    Jul 9, 2018

    No. I have a plan of what I will most likely do. I’m just curious to what others do. Always looking for good ideas :)
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jul 9, 2018

    I make sure my room is first-day ready, even if it means coming in on my own time before teachers are required to report. Things go more smoothly for me when everything is where it is supposed to be.
     
  6. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jul 9, 2018

    I have relaxed more and more every year about the first day of school. (for 5 days)
    at my school I didn't expect to get into any material (some teachers at some schools do, at mine it just wouldn't work)
    - I assigned seats
    - handed out folders, had students put their names on it
    - explained rules, consequences, rewards and procedures
    - gave them enough time to just sit and talk, since that's all they wanted to do anyways
    (I used to worry that if I take it easy on the first day, students will expect the same and I set the wrong tone, but it wasn't the case)

    At first I made a powerpoint with all the information on it, and l also had a questionnaire type worksheet for the students to fill out with the answers (rules, procedures, etc). I basically filled the entire class period with things to go over.
    I realized that a lot of students were coming in late, I was making a bigger deal out of everything than it was needed. I also realized that at least 50 % of my students were always the same from prior years.
    So eventually I ditched the powerpoint, kept the worksheet, and we filled it out. In some classes 75 % of the students were previous students, so I let them work together and fill it out, then we went over it.
    In classes where I've had more new students, we went over it together.

    In some years I came up with extra credit, something relevant to the curriculum. Ffor example the year we read Crime and Punishment, I gave the kids a copy of the Russian Alphabet, and then I handwrote words and phrases on paper. They were in English; for example our city, the school's name, and some simple sentences, but used the Russian letters. So the kids didn't translate, they decoded. They didn't have to do it, it was extra credit, but it was something different. They could do it and chit-chat, or not do it or whatever. I was shocked how many of them really got into it.
    It was easy, relaxing, challenging, no big deal, they didn't lose anything by not doing it, but got a headstart with a few extra credit points.

    I used to be so nervous about the first day, not after the 1st 2 years.
     
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  7. That Business Guy

    That Business Guy Rookie

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    Jul 9, 2018

    Thanks for the insight!
     
  8. That Business Guy

    That Business Guy Rookie

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    Jul 9, 2018

    Definitely a good idea. Thanks!
     
  9. JimG

    JimG Companion

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    Jul 10, 2018

    Math teacher here, primarily Geometry. On my first day, I am thinking about having students make basic “hexaflexagons” or sometimes called “magic hexagons.” It is hard to describe in words, but the first two minutes of the linked video, at the bottom of this post, give a good demonstration of what it is and how it works.

    I feel this will be a good “hook” for many kids into Geometry, especially for tactile learners and those that are into art.

    I also believe that I can reference back to it throughout the entire first unit. It is easy to demonstrate points and segments on it. For lines and rays, I can refer back to an edge of the single strip it started from. It can be used to visualize planes in a variety of non-rectangular rays, and the flexing step where it collapses into sort of a pyramid of three triangles could be a great way to visualize non-coplanar points. The various overlapping and adjacent angles can be used to illustrate the need for three-point angle naming notation. Could also demonstrate segment addition, midpoints, angle addition, angle bisectors, vertical angles, congruent angles, and linear pairs on the hexagon face as well as on the edge of the original strip.

    Lastly, (partly kidding), if fidgeting too much with it in later classes becomes a distraction, it will be a lot more fun to say, “Put your hexaflexagons away,” as opposed to giving the same directive about a fidget spinner or a phone :).

    Here is the video I referenced earlier. Like I said, you can get the gist of it in the first two minutes.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2018
  10. mamaotter

    mamaotter Rookie

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    Jul 10, 2018

    Hi, also Math, possibly geometry, I don't know yet. I love these! I've made them with my kids. Thanks for the reminder. If I end up with geometry, I might have to borrow the idea.
     
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  11. Aces

    Aces Comrade

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    Jul 10, 2018

    We always start on a Wednesday and there is ALWAYS a whole list of schedule changes and shuffles that have to be completed. There will be students randomly assigned to classes that don't even make sense (freshmen in senior-only physics). So to me it doesn't even make sense to start teaching anything useful until Monday when stuff is mostly sorted and settled. Generally the first three days I hand out all of the paperwork both the schools and my own. We go over the expectations and classroom policies. I like to do some fun meet and greet games just to get the ice broken between everyone. They will have to work together in labs so it's nice to kinda break the ice. Monday we get down to business (to defeat the huns...)
     
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  12. That Business Guy

    That Business Guy Rookie

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    Jul 10, 2018

    Thanks for the feedback! Hooking students is a great way to start the year!
     
  13. That Business Guy

    That Business Guy Rookie

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    Thanks for the feedback! Schedule changes are something I will keep in mind.
     
  14. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    Aug 5, 2018

    When I taught English, I had students take different personality tests on their first day. This led into their first writing assignment, which was an "about me" essay based on the results of the test.
     
  15. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    I just let them ask questions about the summer packet that they have a test over on the second day of school, and maybe play a few random games if time permits.
     
  16. Teacher234

    Teacher234 Comrade

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    Aug 6, 2018

    Before my students arrive, I make sure everything is ready for the year. I use a checklist, but ensure preparations are complete weeks before September 1st.
    My students are given a morning free time (which almost never happens). I do not follow my typical schedule. I explain rules, routines, and procedures. I do a quick back-to-school poem and have students answer questions. I also do a math game to practice basic facts. I do not worry a lot about instruction for the first week....I just make sure my students are comfortable in my class, understand my procedures/rules, and are able to have fun.
    ****Then on the 3rd day, it is a completely different world. There is a lot of work and a little free-time/flex time.
     
  17. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Aug 6, 2018

    I did the requisite management stuff, but also had students copy a short poem and respond to it. The discussion that followed gave me some insight into the students’ thinking. I collected their responses and looked them over, which was informative as well. I used “Not Waving But Drowning” by Stevie Smith.
     
  18. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Our first day is always pretty short periods. I go over my syllabus with emphasis on my grading scale since I weight grades. I go over the orientation of my room like where to turn things in, where they can find make up work, etc... I remind them about summer reading and answer any last minute questions.
    Their first assignment is to write a letter to me. I just started that last year and loved it. I had them tell me whatever they wanted with a few guided questions about strengths, weaknesses, etc... I learned so much. I also usually have them set a goal or two for the course.
    I stopped assigning seats on the first day awhile ago. I let them sit where they want for a few days. This shows me who I need to separate! I do always warn them not to get too comfy in their chosen seats though, so they never complain when I do finally assign them.
     
  19. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Aug 8, 2018

    It depends upon the course that I am teaching. Freshmen in on-level courses get a different treatment than seniors in AP courses. In both classes seats are assigned and some basic class rules are reviewed. I do rules and procedures over multiple days in the hopes they stick better that way. Also, like someone said up thread, my rolls look a lot different at the end of the first week than they do at the start.

    I do make time to briefly introduce the first unit. In my advanced classes I give a peek into the rigor of the course so students can change their schedule if they're not up for the challenge.
     
  20. Bioguru

    Bioguru Companion

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    Aug 16, 2018

    I've always had the philosophy of setting the tone right the first day of school. When my students come in, I spend maybe 15 minutes covering classroom rules and procedures. Then I hop right into material. This has worked great for me for 9 years now and I don't intend to change as I have had wonderful results and very enjoyable classes.
     
  21. vickilyn

    vickilyn Virtuoso

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    Aug 16, 2018

    As a science teacher, I like to use the inquiry box on day one. Forms groups, encourages discussion and interactions, isn't boring, and there is always the reveal at the end to give them something to think about. For an honors class, I may ask them how they would create an inquiry box based on the activity, as "homework". I've had some awesome results come back to me.
     

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