5 Tips for Back to School In Secondary
It is time to start thinking about heading back to school, and I hope these five tips will get you moving in the right direction.
Give students something creative to do on the first.
Have a short set of directions on the board for students as they walk in so that you can greet them at the door.
I have students in English 11 and AP psychology create collages about themselves to share with the class and me later in the week. My other classes work on a collaborative art piece.
Avoid the syllabus like the plague.
Do anything but go over the syllabus. The students have five or six other teachers reading them a list of rules or procedures, so dare to be different.
You can set expectations and model good behavior without reading students list off a piece of paper. Plus, reading to students in this format is more insulting than informative.
If you must hand out the syllabus, have students read it that night and come back the next day with three questions they have about the syllabus or class.
Have students write something
Student writing establishes the culture of the classroom and moves beyond reading the syllabus; it makes students immediate participants in the class. I also use these write to learn about my students from the get-go.
I always start my English classes with having students do their first journal write:
Why do we study English?
And discuss as a class.
You could have students write two truths and a lie to share with the class, which helps you learn about your students. I also have used the prompt: What do you hope this class isn't?
Assigned seats is a controversial topic for many secondary teachers, but I assign seats the first day of class.
I assign seats randomly as students walk in the door. Finding their place on the chart that I display on the projector takes them a few minutes and gets their brains working.
I also like that it mixes kids up, so if you have a new student they have a place they have to sit with other students, and it breaks up groups that might already know each other, which puts everyone on a more level playing field.
Mostly I assign seats for myself-selfish, I know. I use assigned seats to learn students names, and they stay in the assigned seats through the first quarter. Then, if they have proven worthy, they can sit where they would like. Often, I have found, the students, because they are creatures of habit, stay in their original seat. I explain all this to the students on the first day- that they have to sit there to help me out, and that they will be able to move in two months.
Give a homework assignment
Not a lot of classes give homework on the first day of school, so again, dare to be different. It can be the syllabus questions I suggested above, but I start my Literary Boot Camp off with two stories to read for the next day.
Homework on day one doesn't mean that you can't keep building relationships, culture, and routines during that first week. What it does do is show the students that they are here to work.
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