What do you do on your first day of classes?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by StrugglingTeach, Jun 17, 2010.

  1. StrugglingTeach

    StrugglingTeach Rookie

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    Jun 17, 2010

    I know it's still early, given that it's the end of the year :D

    But what does your first day of a class look like? Say it is a 75 minute period - - there's the usual administrative stuff, going over course outline, etc., right? Then do you go into the course material or first unit right away?
     
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  3. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    First day for me involves about 15 minutes of admin, passing out textbooks, quickly rule procedures and then we start on our first assignment. We begin a cooperative learning project about the discovery history and we are archeologist uncovering the past. My few years of teaching I tried the get to know you stuff and it just didn't work for me. I want my kids to know I LOVE what I teach and I am ready to go right now. If you think about high schoolers, they have been in school for at least 10 yrs, know the rules and have to assume execpt for first period, they have sat through this stuff already.

    I have been at my school long enough now that my reputation precedes me, most of my students come prepared the first day.
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jun 17, 2010

    I spend 10 minutes on the intro stuff.

    Then I ask if anyone needs to borrow a pen and some paper.

    Then I start to teach. I teach until the end of the period and assign homework. The next day I check the homework and teach some more. The 3rd day I quiz on that first day material.

    It works for me. It sets the tone that we're going to do lots and lots of math this year, and I have minimal interruptions.
     
  5. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    Jun 18, 2010

    Not much. They're too busy socializing (because in 2010, for some reason, friends don't see each other outside of school in our district). To try to herd them in every five minutes for material they're not even going to retain because they're more interested in personal conversations is a waste of my time.
     
  6. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Jun 18, 2010

    Like Alice and INteacher, I spend about 10 minutes on admin stuff. Students do a bell ringer related to the content that ties into the summer. We go over the bell ringer, students develop rules with me, we discuss the climate of the classroom and how we want the classroom run. We then jump right into the content..whether that is reading or writing. I teach bell to bell as well.
     
  7. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Jun 18, 2010

    I teach an 80 minute block, so we do a couple of activities. The first 10 minutes or so is the administrative stuff, then I do some sort of activity that gets them up and moving and sitting with different people in the class. It's usually some sort of problem solving/group discussion type thing that allows them to get to know each other but also lets me see how they interact with each other and with me when they have a question. Then we do some writing (usually about 15-20 minutes worth), and finally they share their writing. I want to set the tone that they will be working in groups a lot, expected to write a lot and share what they're writing.
     
  8. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Jun 18, 2010

    It's so hard to do real work the first few days of classes, because at my school there's always a lot of schedule changes, so kids are moving in and out. This often goes on for a couple of weeks, and it drives me crazy. Not to mention that we start on a Wednesday, then have a 3-day weekend, go back for 2 days, have Thursday off for a Jewish holiday, and have school on Friday. Two three-day weeks in a row. :dizzy: There are always parents who think the first few days are optional, so I'll have kids who don't show up at all until the second week.

    What I try most to do is set the tone for how I will relate to them, and how I expect them to respond to me. We do a bit of writing and play an icebreaker game that they enjoy a lot that also gives me a sense of who they are by how they respond. I save my printed policies for the second or third day.
     
  9. Soccer Dad

    Soccer Dad Cohort

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    Jun 18, 2010

    I jump right in. By high school, the students know not to throw stuff, not to be late to class, not to be rude, etc. I spend maybe 5 minutes going over what to do if an assignment is late and what to do when absent. Then, I have them get their textbooks and their first homework calendar. The remaining 25-30 minutes is spent learning about the early explorers in U.S. History and paleolithic man in World History.

    I remember hating the usual syllabus reading that took the whole period. By 8th period, I'd be shot. Therefore, I jump right in with teaching.

    (I also ask about their summers but theyre usually too shy still to answer.)
     
  10. Soccer Dad

    Soccer Dad Cohort

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    Jun 18, 2010

    Students are always more interested in personal conversations.... turn it into a learning experience for you. Have them share their stories with you so you can learn something about them.
     
  11. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    LOL....Don't take this the wrong way, but what high school do YOU teach at? Throwing "stuff", being rude, and being late are almost considered honors students at my school. (LOL...I'm being facetious, of course, but it really does go on a LOT with our students. Our principal even said we should take the first three days to just work on social skills and forget about academics during those three days.)
     
  12. Soccer Dad

    Soccer Dad Cohort

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    I didn't say they don't do it, I said the know better. They need me standing up in front of them for 40 minutes saying, "Don't chew gum," "Don't talk when I'm talking," etc. All I say is: if you do it, you pay for it. End of story.

    I don't have major problems with students misbehaving. I always get students that have a hard time staying on task and not talking but I'm certainly not going to spend the first three days of school helping them work on the social skills....
     
  13. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jun 18, 2010

    When do you go over the syllabus then?
     
  14. Soccer Dad

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    I don't usually. I explain the difference between an honors and a Regents level class. I tell them what to do if their absent and how late work can be handed in. I tell them my classroom is based on respect and that's it. I have them read the rest with their parents for homework. As the year goes on, I hit on it again. For instance, it really doesn't behoove me to explain what a Socratic Seminar is the first day of school. When we go to do our first one, though, I obviously discuss it.

    I don't need to read out loud to them what units we have to cover and stuff like that.

    It literally takes me about 2 minutes to say: you will have a large research paper due sometime in the second quarter and you will have another one in the third quarter that is less demanding.

    I discuss the way I like homework to be done the next day when I assign their first homework assignment.
     
  15. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jun 18, 2010

    My first day is usually about 15 or 20 minutes going over the syllabus and the things in my class they aren't use to from other teachers (grading policies, tests/quizzes, final exams, use of technology, writing program, research paper, homework calendars, and outline of my favorite common class activities etc.) I go over what the difference between an honors and a CP class and what I therefore expect in a honors student in regards to workload and rigor. I then hand out their first unit calendar and we begin from there. They read the rest of the syllabus for homework and get it signed by a parent. Then I begin teaching usually with a power point lecture. I go over how I want homework, essays, debates, projects, aspects of their laptops/technology how to turn in work etc. done when we get to them.

    Then on day three we set-up our notebooks because I'm big on organization.
     
  16. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I don't.
     
  17. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    Jun 18, 2010

    I've done various things - first four years. Haven't nailed down what I want to do this year. Another team teacher drills respect, entrance and exit procedures, etc. for the first two weeks before he starts academics. I do take the classes on a "fire drill" exercise in the first couple of days so they know where to go. I always give out a welcome brochure written for them and a letter home written for parents/guardians and other school stuff. We, as a team, have all the subject texts on each student's desk as they come in for HR at the beginning of the day. I have used several break-the-ice activities but am not sure I'll do that again.
     
  18. ancientcivteach

    ancientcivteach Habitué

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    Jun 19, 2010

    Brendan, what is contained in their "unit calendars"?
     
  19. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jun 20, 2010

    Unit Calendars are more or less an outline of each day containing due dates, assignments, projects, and assignments. PM if you'd like to see a copy!
     
  20. chemteach55

    chemteach55 Connoisseur

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    Jun 20, 2010

    We are required to go over our syllabus.
     
  21. Unbeknownst

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    I was scared to speak up, but you set me at ease.

    I will go over procedures, complete with thorough practice, about how I expect the day-to-day to run. No reteaching midway through the school year where to turn in homework, where to pick up late work, when to sharpen a pencil, how to line up at the door, how to turn in papers, etc.

    I don't expect to hit on content until the second week.

    After my first-week boot camp, students will know EXACTLY what I expect of them and EXACTLY how to do everything we will be doing on a day-to-day basis.
     
  22. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    You shouldn't be scared to speak up. We all do things differently and the way it works best for us. I went through my first few years trying out different "first days" and "first weeks" before I worked out the "first day" that worked for me and I have used for the past 10 years.

    My biggest issue is that I teach 3 AP classes and there is NO time to waste in those classes, content starts on day one. It was just easier for me to line up all my classes that way.
     
  23. Unbeknownst

    Unbeknownst Cohort

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    I consider my time spent on thoroughly teaching procedures in the beginning of the year to be an investment.

    By spending more time in the beginning, I expect to spend no time trying to correct small procedural things later in the year.

    Hopefully, in the long run, I'll have more instructional time to teach my content.

    I'll have to be perfect though; we'll see how it goes.
     
  24. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Poor choice of words (no time to waste) . . . no I don't think it is a waste of time going over procedures. My AP kids have all had me before and know how my class runs plus we have met twice over the summer.

    My intent was to express we all do things differently.
     
  25. Unbeknownst

    Unbeknownst Cohort

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    You didn't have to explain anything :) I appreciated your comments!

    Don't you just love when the lack of inflection creates problems when trying to express something via text?

    I try to be as explicit as possible online, but inevitably I fail sometimes.
     
  26. BCPMWK

    BCPMWK Companion

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    I designed an online quiz/survey for my parents and students to take as a "homework" assignment for this fall. The parent survey includes a place for them to list their email addresses, and any questions that they may have for me. I want parents to look at my website, so that they know where to find announcements from me. I'm hoping this works! I know I'll have some parents who do not have Internet access, so I included a parent info space on my syllabus as well.
     
  27. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    That's a great idea! I'll definitely look into that for this fall. :thumb:
     
  28. onestepcloser

    onestepcloser Companion

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    Those of you teaching at the secondary level, do you guys do any icebreakers or introduction type activities on the first day?
     
  29. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    a 10 minute spiel on how my class works, then I dive into the material.

    But most people do it differently than I do.

    I figure they already know each other. They need to get to know me. They'll do that by being part of my class.
     
  30. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    First, I go over rules, syllabus, etc.

    I have them do a few ice breakers. This year I think I'll have them make index cards with their name, e-mail address, favorite junk food, favorite book, and favorite movie. We'll then pain up and they'll share their answers. I'll keep the cards. On the back, I'll let them write anything I might need to know about them, but that they didn't want to share with the class.

    I usually start right in with a short story, but this year i'm teaching an elective, so I may start with a journal article related to that topic. i don't want to start with any new content because our schedules change so much in the first week or so...
     
  31. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    I do icebreakers because they fit naturally into the English curriculum. On that first day, I want to see them interact with each other, with me, I want to see them in groups and alone, and I want them to write for me.
     
  32. Unbeknownst

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    Awesome. I like this.
     

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