First Week of Middle School - Procedures v. Content
I'm wading through my begin year folder and sketching out what needs to be done the first week of school. Its an old debate - procedures versus content. You need to teach procedures for long term classroom/team stability, but they are never fresher or more hungry for something new to learn.
So what do you and your team do the first week of school? What procedures do you teach? How do you go about it?
I do a quickie intro to me and my class- 15 minutes or so-- then get right to content. I teach something that first day, and assign homework.
The content is important; I can't emphasize that enough. And that first homework sets a tone in the way that no explanation can. They leave my class knowing that I mean business, and the year starts off on a "learning" note.
I know it doesn't work for everyone. But it works for me.
So, I don't have TONS of experience to base this on. However, I started out with a FEW procedures and then went right into lessons and work.
I am going to spend a LOT more time on procedures this time around. We start on a Monday this year, so it will be a LONG week for the kids and for us. I am thinking Monday and Tuesday will be used for housekeeping items...kids have to fill out the STEP sheets, seating arrangments, supply set-up (each period has a file box where they keep their AR Folder and journal), and a lot of modeling procedures. That still leaves 3 days to polish the edges, and start on instruction...most likely vocabulary and grammar to ease into the mix. I will also do read alouds at least 2 times that week...just short picture books. Yes, I use picture books in 8th grade!
I have a PowerPoint that I will use to go over who I am, guidelines, procedures, etc. It is LONG, and was adapted from two PPTs I found on another board (Wong related) Teachers.Net.
It has taken me days to fine tune it, and I am still not done, but I feel it will be very effective at showing the kids what I want. I hope to use it along with my Promethean Board, and allow the kids to do some interaction and filling in the blanks during a "review" of our guidelines and procedures.
If anyone wants a copy of my PPT, you can email me, and I will gladly send it to you....it is not totally complete, but would give you a great idea.
My foundations are in elementary and special education, and I will begin a 9th and 10th grade special education english position in the fall. I believe most of my classes may be self-contained. I plan to spend a lot of time on procedures, expectations, introductions and the like. I want the students to know what I expect, I want to know what they expect of me (and if they've never thought about it, we'll think about it), and daily things (the district uses "bellringers," quick thoughts/assignments to start class).
However, I am lucky in that I teach English. I can tie reading and writing into any of this. I feel this strong foundation in rules, expectations, and procedures will be beneficial. However, there are also 90minute blocks, so I will have time to begin content.
I teach both procedures and content from day one. I use Randy Sprick's CHAMPs program, so I've got a procedure for everything . . . but I don't teach everything at the same time. I teach them as I need them.
The first day we cover coming into the classroom, what to do at the first of class, and then what to do during direct instruction. Then I give my classroom introduction . . . and make any corrections as needed during that time. After that, I give my independent work procedures and give them their first assignment. I reinforce and add new ones as needed.
I teach and give homework the first day. I figure there are two types of expectations to set with the students: how they are expected to behave and how hard I expect them to work this year. I think most teachers are pretty similar regarding behavior expectations but vary wildly in how work is handled. I want the students to make no mistake there. I like to make it very clear their job is to learn and mine is to teach. I am not a "don't smile until November" teacher. I am very lighthearted with the students so long as they are working and behaving. I let them see that right away.
I spend probably 15 minutes explaining procedures. 15 minutes with rules (look like sound like and rationale discussion). 15 minutes doing an ice breaker/community builder. Then the first lesson starts (will probably do an operations "quiz", review and practice) and assign homework. While we do the lesson we are applying the rules I will correct, explain, and have the students redo a procedure I want corrected.
The other reason I do it this way is the students in my campus often don't show up the first day, especially the ones who near to hear my rules. The kids will pass the word to their absent friends that I'm a tough butt or that I assigned homework etc but I wouldn't expect them to discuss my sharpener policy outside of class.
With that said, I don't think there is one right way to handle this. Each teacher should do what they feel comfortable doing.
We're advised to not start in on any real content for "the first couple of weeks" due to high transiency and many (MANY!) students not knowing when the first day of school is.
My first weeks will be spent on expectations and procedures, ice breakers, and fun Did You Know? stuff about my subject. It stinks not being able to dive right in, but if I did that I'd just have to reteach the 75 kids who arrived a week and a half after the start of the year.
This year will be my first year teaching and I am debating this question right now as I am planning. I have a traditional calendar with six classes (45 minute) everyday. Our first day is a Monday and my current thinking is to go over procedures the first two days and review for the next three before diving into the content. I will be teaching 7th grade world history so I am thinking that a world geography overview will be a nice refresher before moving on to new material.
We have half day, shortened periods the first day. I go through procedures and expectations the first day. The second day I briefly review the first day and we set up our notebooks. There is generally a notebook related assignment. The third day I teach.
At my school, we are required to go over the schoolwide discipline plan and our individual class rules/procedures BEFORE teaching any content. Last year, the staff spend 3 days on procedures. I also went over the plan and my rules at the beginning of each nine weeks. If I have to add more rules, I'll address it at the beginning of the nine weeks.