You know that feeling that you want to write about your first week of school to document it and yet you don’t want to do it. But I have to tell myself over and over that there is only one first week of school for the year. This first week of school is very special because this year, I have my own class, my very own class as a permanent teacher!
Now, does that make it more valid to be worth writing about?
A few weeks before the new school year started, Twitter has been overflowing with back-to-school ideas. Three of them I picked in particular to get me started: Play-Doh activity found in Teach Like A Pirate book by Dave Burgess, Youcubed.org videos by Dr. Jo Boaler, and 5 Questions to Ask Your Students by George Couros.
Here’s my learning at the end of the week.
Using Play-Doh on the first day of school lessened the anxiety of students. It made the atmosphere more relaxed. Grade 4-5 students were surprised to see a Play-Doh on a plate waiting for them. A new student actually wrote about it on her “Highlights of the Week.”
It’s interesting to see some students struggled in deciding what to make to represent themselves while other exactly knew what to do. This activity gave me an opportunity to learn about them right away.
With Dr. Jo Boaler and her students sharing their love for math in a video for students to watch, how can this be not worth a try? I had the youcubed.org posters printed off and laminated. Another poster from Ikea coincide with the idea of making mistakes. Only after 4 days of school, I hear my students saying that math is not about speed. It’s more about depth. They are more open to making mistakes and keep on trying which was visible when they did the Stack-A-Red-Cup Challenge. So far, we worked on 3 word problems from the University of Waterloo. Then, topped it up with a card game on place value which they truly enjoyed.
The classroom norm, we asked the students about classroom expectations during the first week of school. With George Couros’ list, we asked them about the qualities they look for in a teacher, their passion, their question for the year, their strengths and what success looks like to them. I took the risk and gave them this questionnaire and am so glad I did. It gave me an insight of who they are beyond the classroom. I’m going to put them in a chart and see what’s common and what’s different.
I also want to open that window for parents and guardians to get a peek of our learning beginning the first week. On Friday, students came home with the Parent Invite to connect to our class through Seesaw. Out of 24, 10 are already connected. They can listen, watch or see what’s taking place which can be a good starting point of conversation at home. When they ask their child, “How’s school?” The one word response “good” won’t be enough.
Highlights of Our Week
Trust. A Safe Place. Respect. Like any human being, we would like to be around people that we trust. We would like to be in a place where we feel safe and individual differences are respected. This is the kind of environment that we try to build at the beginning of a new school year. For four days that they’ve been coming to school with smiles on their faces, I know we are on our way. It will take time for some but we will get there!
This is a new journey for me. I’m opening myself to take more risks to better myself in the classroom, make mistakes and learn with my students, collaborate more, share what I know and learn much more with and from other educators.
Lastly, a question I’d like to ask you, “How’s your first week of school?”