Summer is rapidly coming to an end which means let’s start the back to school work. Time to take all that summer learning from books, blogs, twitter, planning with co-workers, professional learning, vacation, and etc, and put it into practice.
How do you start off your school year? Prep your classroom, make some lesson plans, get those bulletin boards and seating charts ready, etc? What about the syllabus, class rules, and class expectations? That was something that was at the top of my priority list my first few years of teaching. I felt it paramount to cover every bit of the syllabus and class rules and expectations on DAY 1.
My first year of teaching, I made sure to really hit those rules and expectations hard. I wanted the students to know I was in charge and I meant what I said. Big surprise….at the end of the day, I wasn’t inspired. I was exhausted and annoyed with repeating the same rules and answering the same questions all day long. But I guess I forgot that feeling as I did the exact same thing my 2nd year and again, at the end of the day I found myself bored and uninspired.
By Year 3, I FINALLY wised up a bit and changed my first day into a more fun activity that involved yarn, construction paper, and teamwork with students creating their own maps of the earth and an ‘archeological dig’ (from a paper bag) and then a silly name game icebreaker that we played outside with a ball in the beautiful Texas heat (I mean, the beautiful Texas sunshine).
It was SO MUCH BETTER. At the end of that day, I was PUMPED, ready for a new school year, and I could see the students shared my same excitement.
How do you plan to start your year? I saw a twitter post from Matthew Arend the other day with a picture of 5 Questions from George Couros. You can read about it on Couros’s blog here: http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/7552
Here are the questions:
Aren’t these almost perfect questions for starting off your year? I’m brainstorming how I can use these with the social studies department on my campus as their Instructional Coach. I want to know from the teachers:
- What are the qualities you look for in an instructional coach?
- What are you passionate about that you want to share with others?
- What BIG goal do you have for the year?
- What are your strengths (luckily, many have completed the Strength Finder, but now is a great time to revisit those)?
- and then, wow, did you see that last question…
What does success at the end of the year look like to you?
How powerful is that question? It is incredible! It is one that I need to reflect on for awhile before I can formulate an answer. And then, it needs to be revisited throughout the year to see if that success is building or if what that picture of success was has changed.
What questions are you going to ask yourself before the year starts? What questions will you ask your students?
At the end of the FIRST day of school, will you be inspired? Will you feel ready to rock and roll? Will you have gleaned some insight into the personalities of your students? Or will you be without a voice and exhausted on your feet from going over the rules all day long, over and over again?
I hope you make the choice for inspiration! Which reminds me of some great words from my high school Principal, Mr. Haver: “Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours.”
Happy back to school planning fellow educators!