However, there were some HUGE differences that made me realize time had, in fact, passed. My former grade 6s moved on to middle school (I got a set of tear-enducing photos of a group of them starting grade 7) and my former grade 5s are now amongst the leaders of the school. They are in grade 6, split amongst two classes. Meeting new students and parents and watching the Rainbow Eggheads line up with other teachers brought me into the moment. As unforgettable and magical as last year was, I have a new group of students who are ready to get going and need me to be in the moment, every moment.
This year, I have the priviledge of working with an OT (Occasional Teacher) named Catherine who will be teaching our students every Wednesday and Thursday afternoon. I'll be out of the school those times for my BEd course and she'll be teaching integrated Science/Math/Phys Ed and Health. Even though it wasn't her day to be in, Catherine gave up a precious sleep-in and joined us from the first moment this morning. I think it really helped to cement in our students' minds that we are all a team.
Of course, I over planned the day.
Below is what I hoped to get to:
Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
Class numbers - line up outside
Drop off bags in coat room (hooks labelled)
-Name game - name with actions
-Getting to Know You survey
-teacher marks our height against the wall
-My Flair, Flair Success Criteria
10:30 a.m. - Assembly
-doodle: Char Stars (in sketchbook)
-expectations/rumours about grade ¾, Room 209, Shauna
-Vision to describe the year - great class, great teacher, great classmates, supportive parents (fold paper in 4), “the first thing I do is always the same, mate!”
-How do you feel today? Sticky notes
-Getting to Know you survey
-Marshmallow Challenge (cooperation, innovation, making, planning)
Day 1 - marshmallow challenge - 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard tape, one yard string, marshmallow, 18 minutes, 4 ppl - highest free standing structure w marshmallow on top http://www.ted.com/talks/tom_wujec_build_a_tower - graph standing structures (repeat 4 months later)
-measure heights of towers
-What Stuck With You Today? on sticky notes
-distribute package of newsletters from office
-get dismissal info - to office, in supply teacher book, by classroom door
Here are some of the things we ACTUALLY accomplished:
- For the first time in ten years of being in classrooms, I learned every student's name by the end of the day. I play a game where each person has to introduce his or herself and use an action to represent his or her name. Then, the rest of us say, "Helloooooo, ______" and mimic the action. I'm terrible with names. These movements are a huge help to me. My own is a paw-lick (get it? Pollock = paw-lick!?). Bringing in the students after first recess, I was able to greet all twenty-two of them by name. I only had to stare at a few of them for an awkward moment before getting their names. I wonder how many I'll have retained tomorrow.
- Students got their class numbers. They practiced getting in line and, man, are they good at it. Each student was assigned a class number (based on organizing their names alphabetically by first name). These help with getting in quick, orderly lines; doing attendance in seconds and keeping track of students on field trips, among other things. I've never had a class "get" this so quickly. They were pretty proud. I wonder how many they'll retain tomorrow!
This is not pretty, but it got the point across! Later, we might make this into an anchor chart near the door as a reminder.
- Students started their Getting to Know You surveys. I've done a variation of these for years. They're super helpful and several of my colleagues now use this as a template too. These are a great way to get to know your students' interests and also to get a quick snapshot as to their reading and writing skills.
- I gave out Brave Bots! The students carried them around proudly all day. I must admit, every time a Brave Bot chose a student, I let out a squeal of joy. Similar to the sounds I made as each Brave Bot got completed!
- We sorted out the dismissal procedure for the whole class and got them all to where they were supposed to be. Only one quick cry, which was calmed instantly with a Brave Bot.
- We took a first day photo.
- Students started their Imagineering Books. They're not allowed to erase in them. We did a warm-up doodling activity called "Char Stars" to get them loosened up and start the flow of creativity.
- Inspired by Victoria Olson, who deliberately doesn't outline rules or expectations in the first days (or weeks!) of school, I let students sort out a lot of things amongst themselves. They chose seats, including sharing the five bungee chairs. We'll talk about how that went in our first class meeting on Friday.
- We listened to the EPCOTclass playlist while students worked. When some students complained about "Everything is Awesome", we took the chance to have a quick discussion about respecting others' preferences.
- We talked about the traffic light scale. Students used hand gestures to reflect on how they were working and how their behaviour was. Red light reminds us we need to stop right away and change things. Yellow light means we can improve. Green light means we're doing things how we should be. My class last year added Neon Green to the scale as well.
- Students taught each other the sign language symbols for "Thank you", "You're welcome", "Toilet" and "Water" to save us lots of unnecessary interruptions.
I know - a CHALKBOARD?! My computer wasn't working and I wrote this out. I hope the students will turn it into a poster soon.
- I remembered to measure each of the kids' heights. I do this three times a year - first week, week before winter holidays and last week. Seeing how much they're grown is always exciting.
Some things I learned:
- Students at the very start of grade 3/4 just coming off summer holidays have a different output level than students at the end of grade 5/6.
- I can use my week 1 plans for about 3 weeks! The amount I didn't get through today could fill at least two more days. Plus, I already have the rest of the week planned. That'll fill a lot more. Time to put my feet up. (Yeah right!)
- My students' handwriting is really big and I need to leave a lot more space for them to fill out surveys.
- It's really easy to get my step goal in when I'm at school. I recently got a Jawbone UP24 to track my sleep and activity and I achieved 92% of my step goal during the day.
- It's OK to say no to some things. We were asked to update the extracurriculars we are in charge of and I took my name off of several responsibilities I've held in the past.
- I have tweeting students! I already knew that one of my grade 3s was on Twitter, but I found out that one of my 4s is as well. I wonder how many I can get tweeting by the end of the year?
- Twenty-two grade 3/4s take up a lot less space than 29 grade 5/6s.
- My former students will ALWAYS be "my kids".
- It's awesome to be working towards a shared vision with my co-teacher, Catherine and our students.
- EVERYBODY is nervous on the first day of school. I didn't even have butterflies. I had moths. Huge moths. Once the day got rolling though, I didn't even have time to think about being nervous.
- Parents approach a new school year with eagerness and excitement and really do trust us to do our best with their children.
- It's worth it to unplug everything and try again. I've had really bad luck with tech lately. My classroom CPU is totally fried. I dropped by iPhone and smashed it. My (sort of former) teaching partner replaced my CPU (she had to try five different ones), but it wasn't working today. The monitor simply WOULD NOT turn on. After a lot of grumbling, I unplugged everything, plugged it all back in, and voilà, back in business. The computer is still the slowest one I've used in many, many years, but it is functioning again.
- Primary teachers get a LOT more hugs than Junior teachers.
It was a really lovely first day. I had a great time and heard a rumour that a couple of students were talking about what an awesome year they think it will be in Room 209. I think so too.