I am going to be teaching 7th grade next year for the first time. (Last year was my first year teaching and I had 6th.) Our middle schools here go 6th-8th, so the 7th graders are somewhat "seasoned" when they arrive.
What should I do the first few days of the year? Honestly, last year's first week is basically a blur. I know I reviewed my syllabus, expecations, etc, and we played some get-to-know-you games, but this year they will all mostly know each other when they arrive.
What to do? Also, what procedures/ policies take priority in being taught first? Discipline policy/ rules, then. . .?
Eeek! I really would have preferred 6th grade again. Help!
I think no matter what grade you are teaching emphasizing your expecatations is key. Also maybe having the kids help develop the rules with you in order to take more ownership of them... of course mine are usually skewed toward what I want them to be but they really do help with the wording etc. I also think that whether the kids know each other or not, you could come up with some sort of get re-acquainted type activities (a person scavenger hunt where they look for commanalities and differences?). Hope that helps. I haven't taught middle school so I am not sure but it seems like across the board, rules and expectations and feeling comfortable with each other are most important...
I teach seventh grade, and I pretty much hit the ground running. The first day I introduce myself, go over my rules, expectations, class set-up, show them my website, etc. Then we have our first lesson; usually it is one of my workshop procedures. Homework the first night is to make a list of their Top 5 Best Ever Books. I use that the next day to compile an anchor chart for my classroom of Recommended Reading so the kids can get ideas for books to read. Then we are off and running!
Do a mini-lab on observation: Use the mini-lab to introduce procedures for getting & returning lab materials, working in groups, lab work
Introduce procedure for dismissal & exiting the classroom
Homework for Day 1 is to get letter & contract signed, get a composition book to use a a journal and memorize our three rules
Day 2 -
Introduce start of class procedure
Return signed forms & introduce turning in papers procedure
Give a tour of my website
Do another mini-lab; this one focused on teamwork to review & reinforce procedures for getting & returning lab materials, working in groups, lab work
Homework for Day 2 is to get letter & contract signed, get a composition book to use a a journal and to read the classroom policies in our handbook
Day 3 - this is usually Friday in my district
Review & reinforce start of class procedures
Return signed forms & review & reinforce turning papers procedure
Review classroom policies (pretty routine stuff)
Do another mini-activity focusing on reviewing & reinforcing procedures
Homework for Day 3 is to have the journal by Monday
Day 4 -
Set up journals - introduce journal procedure
Review rules, policies, procedures
Begin first unit of study
I continue to introduce new procedures as the need arises, although all of them are written on our class handbook.
We review them every time they are used for at least a month, sometimes 6 weeks. It depends on the class.
In my 7th grade math class on day one I always review the class expectations for behavior, class procedures, syllabus, play a brief "get acquainted" game (we have a lot of summer transition of students due to the military) and then we do an engaging problem of the week.
Day two is a regular class day with warm up, lesson, activity, and closing.
I try to set the tone on day one that we will be working hard and having fun along the way.
I don't even bother with rules until day 3 and then only for 10 minutes in a comical powerpoint presentation. My kids start working day 1 and they truly appreciate it. They hate listening to rules six times in a row.
Day 2 I step back a bit and tell them all about me and my life story (I teach history so this serves to model why storytelling matters). Day 3, as I said, I do a very brief rules review. Day 4 we read Dr. Suesse's Butter Battle Book.
That ends our first week and the following week we're into lecture notes.
I start with the most important procedures (thank you Harry Wong!) and do a team-building activity. Everyone gets into random teams. They get the same number of index cards (8 I think) and the same amount of tape. I then challenge the groups to construct a structure to hold the most encyclopedias without crumbling. Highest so far is a complete set and 4 dictionaries.
Literally, I improvised it one day when I had nothing to do on the first day. Eight index cards, limited tape. After that, I pile on encyclopedias on one at a time while the class counts off the number. It was from my skeletal structure lessons, showing how cylindrical bones distribute the weight. The cylindrical constructions hold a load of encyclopedias. Everything else crumbles.