New teacher seeking advice for the first day and week of school

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by onestepcloser, Aug 18, 2010.

  1. onestepcloser

    onestepcloser Companion

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2010
    Messages:
    119
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 18, 2010

    Hi everyone,

    I am a new secondary teacher. First semester I will be teaching freshmen and sophomore students. I'm really nervous about the first day(s) of school and was wondering if you guys could give me some suggestions. Classes are 75 minutes long. I'm not sure if I should do icebreakers on the first day, the best way to handle seating arrangements/plans (I'll be moving from classroom to classroom so I won't be re-arranging the desks), how I should start into the content, etc. I'm really nervous about getting started off on the right foot. If you have any advice or could share some details about how you start the first day and week of school, I would really appreciate it. I realize there is a New Teachers forum but I thought this section would be most appropriate for this post since it's specific to secondary.

    TIA!
     
  2.  
  3. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2007
    Messages:
    17,362
    Likes Received:
    46

    Aug 18, 2010

    Everyone is going to have different opinions on this. IMO, I would sit down and read Harry Wong's The First Days of School. Great read for new teachers! I would take the first days to teach your specific procedures. Do some get to know you activities, let the students get to know you. Good luck!
     
  4. onestepcloser

    onestepcloser Companion

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2010
    Messages:
    119
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 18, 2010

    Thank you! I'm going to pick up that book tomorrow. :)

    I know everyone will have different opinions but I'd still like to hear them. Especially details on how people time the first day of class. I'm nervous! lol.

    Thanks for your tips :)
     
  5. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2010
    Messages:
    10,924
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 18, 2010

    I agree with Harry Wong's book, it is a great resource. I would take a day to let the students get to know you and your expectations. Most of the time, the first day is a review of the syllabus (or whatever your expectations and content for the year or semester are). For the rest of the week, I would plan some time for the students to get to know their textbook.

    What subject will you teach? For instance, if you have science-spend time review the safety and lab procedures. If is is LA-have the students start by writing a memoir. If you teach math, start with a pre-assessment of skills and some review...
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    Aug 18, 2010

  7. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Messages:
    5,874
    Likes Received:
    1,379

    Aug 18, 2010

    I think Harry Wong's book is a great resource. I just started my 18th year, and it's still a good "refresher" book to look at every year.

    I always sit my students alphabetically on the first day, just because it's easier. It's easy to move them around later.

    I always stress procedures A LOT for the first month or so because it makes things easier for me in the long run.
     
  8. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2007
    Messages:
    17,362
    Likes Received:
    46

    Aug 18, 2010

    I had the great pleasure of hearing Mr. Wong speak in person this summer, and one thing that he said that stuck with me is to have a first day script. Write out everything you want to say to the kiddos, that way in the nervousness of the first day jitters, you don't forget something important you want to say.
     
  9. SingBlueSilver

    SingBlueSilver Companion

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    Messages:
    190
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 18, 2010

    Hi! Congrats on your new position!
    I feel like I'm being blasphemous here, but I wasn't wild about Harry Wong's book. Don't get me wrong, there were things I could take away from it that were helpful, but I just didn't think the book was worth it's price; try finding it used at a college bookstore if you really want to pick it up. Here is a link that has some good highlights of the book:
    http://www.yale.edu/21c/arkansas/documents/Meek_9_25_07_HarryWong.pdf

    I'm with Alice - I like to dive into content as soon as possible. After the chaos of the first 2 days (where I'll be going over my syllabus, discipline, textbook scavenger hunt, if time permits - an ice breaker), I'll start teaching content the 3rd day.
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    Aug 18, 2010


    I've never read Harry Wong, and somehow have managed to hold down a teaching job for a couple of decades now.

    And I hit the content the very first day, complete with homework that night and a quiz 2 days later.

    My "intro" is a 10 minute spiel on how I do homework, tests, and extra help for the most part. Then I start teaching.
     
  11. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2007
    Messages:
    17,362
    Likes Received:
    46

    Aug 18, 2010

    There are some things I could do w/o in Wong's book. I take a blend of him, Love&Logic, Capturing Kids' Hearts, etc.
     
  12. joe22k

    joe22k Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 18, 2010

    I would suggest making up a list of things to talk about the first day. I would also suggest making a seating chart before the first day and move them into those seats as quickly as possible. This sets the tone and you can learn names quicker. My first year I labeled each desk with a number and gave them a card as they entered and had them go to that number. Some sat in the wrong seat and the seating charts were so mixed up I think I spent day 3 mainly going through creating a whole new seating chart.
     
  13. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2010
    Messages:
    10,924
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 18, 2010

    No one approach will work for anyone. Its finding the blended approach that works for you. Wong is a great place to start, but keep reading. The more you read about school and teaching, the more ideas you will have.
     
  14. Navigator

    Navigator Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2010
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 19, 2010

    Congratulations on your new career! You're in for a great ride. :)

    I think it's a good idea for any teacher, whether you're new or experienced, to cover some content the first day. Even if you spend only 10-15 minutes on content, you'll send the message to your students that they can expect to work in your class.

    That's what I do, and it works well for me. My periods are 50 minutes long, and I spend the first 35 or so on procedures, syllabus, etc. My students are almost all juniors.

    I also agree with the people who think it's a good idea to basically work from a script that first day. I don't literally write out a script, but I do have a list of "talking points" ready so I don't lose my focus.

    Good luck, and have fun!
     
  15. Sshintaku

    Sshintaku Comrade

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2010
    Messages:
    449
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 19, 2010

    My first week looks like this: (I teach English)

    1: Introduction - syllabus, expectations, introducing myself, questions for the kids
    2: Students make "coat of arms" for the wall (basically information about themselves, a picture, a motto)
    3: Read an autobiography selection
    4: Start writing student's autobiography
    5: Finish writing student's autobiography and share.

    I like to give them a day to feel things out, and then jump in with some simple, but academic, getting to know you kinds of things. That's easier with English than it would be for something like math though I would imagine.
     
  16. apple25

    apple25 Comrade

    Joined:
    May 11, 2007
    Messages:
    275
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 19, 2010

    Congrats on yoru new job! I know that your first day will go great - mainly because you are already planning it! Your admin will likely require you to go through some info with them - or maybe not as it sounds like you are not a homeroom teacher but a travelling one. It will make the first day a bit of a challenge but you'll rise up to the occasion!

    I ditto everyone that said create a script. That way, you'll feel much less nervous and will remember to cover everything!

    HTML:
    I'm not sure if I should do icebreakers on the first day
    I'll be honest - I'm not a big fan! I give them an "All ABout Me" sheet instead.

    HTML:
    the best way to handle seating arrangements/plans (I'll be moving from classroom to classroom so I won't be re-arranging the desks)
    Hmm, this is a tricky one. Can you talk to the previous teacher and see what they are using? I would keep it simple for now and adopt when possible (if it fits with your teaching philosphy). Don't hesitate to move kids right away if it isn't working!

    HTML:
    how I should start into the content
    Right away! Absolutely try to get something done the first day. I'm all about setting up procedures and expectations, but the kids will have heard it all before from numerous teachers. If you must, I'd suggest a powerpoint to introduce you as a teacher and than start teaching!

    You'll be great!
     
  17. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2006
    Messages:
    6,181
    Likes Received:
    1

    Aug 19, 2010

    1) start content on the first day
    2) I do ice breakers but I teach elementary. I wouldn't do it for secondary students (HATED them when I was in high school, so I wouldn't do it as a teacher).
    3) If you want a good book, I would highly recommend Tools for Teaching by Fred Jones.
    4) seating arrangement by last name
     
  18. wcormode

    wcormode Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2010
    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 19, 2010

    I put together a PP to do in lieu of my reading off of a piece of paper. Then I will have them fill out a questionnaire or do work depending on how their attitude is that first day. But I will have work ready to go if there is time left. There is no way I will let them just sit and talk any day much less the first day.
     
  19. Ellensmom

    Ellensmom Companion

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2005
    Messages:
    234
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 19, 2010

    THAT was THE BEST investment I ever made. Love the book. In fact, I need to get it out and read it again (at least parts of it) and I am a seasoned teacher. It really does help you prioritize and organize.
     
  20. onestepcloser

    onestepcloser Companion

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2010
    Messages:
    119
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 19, 2010

    Hi everyone! Thank you so much for the input. I'll definitely delve into content on the first day.

    I will be teaching English, Geography and ESL. Each class is 75 minutes each.

    I don't have class lists right now, nor have I been able to see what the classrooms I'll be teaching in will look like (in fact, the room allocations may still be subject to change anyway), so I'm not sure how many students are in each of my classes yet, the students names' or the layout of the desks. So I'm not sure what I should do about classroom seating yet.

    I like the use of an All About Me sheet, and will use one of those. I'm just not sure if I should also have students give a short introduction of themselves to the class and me. Some of these students will be new to the school (freshmen) but they'll probably be doing these intros in their other classes too.

    Thanks so much for the input. I'll be keeping it all in mind while I try to figure out what I'm doing! Also thanks for the congratulations. Keep your fingers crossed for me! :)
     
  21. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2010
    Messages:
    10,924
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 19, 2010

    You could have the students introduce themselves to a partner, then a small group...if you don't want to take a lot of time. Some of the students may not know each other so its always nice to at least get names.
     
  22. ChemTeachBHS

    ChemTeachBHS Comrade

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2009
    Messages:
    352
    Likes Received:
    15

    Aug 20, 2010

    I let the kids sit where they want to for the first week (3 half days). They always sit next to their friends. I do this so I know who NOT to sit them next to when making my seating chart for the first full day of school! Works every time. Maybe I'm just mean. LOL
     
  23. kbee1219

    kbee1219 Rookie

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2010
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 20, 2010

    On the first day of school i had the students a card with a number on it. They simply sit where that number is. This way I don't have to worry about if my class list changes or anything. However the students still need to follow instructions and sitting down doesn't become a huge deal. As soon as the students come in they have a warm up assignment (usually an about me/ contact information type thing) to get started with right away.

    We always cover some content on the first day and give homework the first night. It is required by my school.

    As for procedures I teach them as we go. There's no reason to go over procedures for a project until its project time. However it is important to practice how to enter the class. I do stress practice and rehearse procedures as we go.

    If you have the resources, it might help to make a powerpoint for the first day so that you cover what you want and have cues to help you remember if you are really nervous.
     
  24. onestepcloser

    onestepcloser Companion

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2010
    Messages:
    119
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 22, 2010

    Thank you so much for the tips everyone! I officially start in 2 weeks (start sooner but students don't start for 2 weeks). I am nervous and hope I can do a great job.
     
  25. eddygirl

    eddygirl Companion

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2010
    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 23, 2010

    I teach mostly freshmen; I have my own room, so I can set up a seating chart right away (I do alpha order so I can learn names, and I think it makes passing papers back easier). I introduce myself, then start with a partner ice-breaker. I give them each a notecard to write down info about their partner (last name; nickname; favorite sport, music, book, etc.; something interesting about them). The partner "reports" the info to the class. I like this because it forces them to talk to at least one guy in the class right away.

    The second class day is for rules, expectations and supplies; I put this on a Powerpoint so they can look at it while I discuss (it also helps me to cover important info). We have summer reading, so I spend time on that on day three.

    I don't jump in to new content from the textbook(s) for the first couple of days because more than a few of our kids don't have their books yet. I go through a Smartboard writing process lesson for days three and four and get them started on their first essay. I start with textbooks the following week.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. waterfall,
  2. ally06
Total: 357 (members: 3, guests: 336, robots: 18)
test