Conventional wisdom tells you that the start of a new year is a great opportunity to play “getting to know you” games and to set expectations. Generally speaking, don’t do anything resembling learning, “its only the first week!”. This same principle applies to the final week by the way, and also to any week that has a day off in it, or any time a few students are away. Leaving us all wondering exactly where all that time has gone…
Its something like training camp, the default position is always “fitness” because fitness wins you matches. Of course, it might, and does. But how do you know? Have we checked the data that says that our fitness was not good enough last season? And that by increasing that, we will win more? In the case of education, do I have the data that tells me the students didn’t know each other well enough on day 1, thats why our NAPLAN results were low?
So my first day is going to be getting to know you by problem solving. The students will have a question that requires some real thinking, it might even require more than one of them to do some real thinking. If you can’t get to know some one by working with them on a task, then you will never get to know them.
A supervisor once gave me a talking to about how I don’t set clear expectations about the rules of the class when I first start. I personally feel that this is a really inefficient way to do things. The first 20 seconds of a new class, every student is in a seat, every one of them is desperate to hear what you have to say, they are actually waiting for you to start. This is not the right environment for me to start listing off rule after rule. What it is a great time for is to let them know, “I really love the way you are all waiting for the lesson to start, that will really help our learning this year, lets make sure we keep that up”.
So tomorrow I have 7 lessons, I have plenty of open ended questions ready to go, they have access to devices to help them get started on their edmodo profile when they need a moment to themselves, and they have a supportive, learner (and learning) focussed environment in which they can get started. What more do they need?
That said, my next post will most likely be from a ditch somewhere because nothing ever goes to plan in a classroom…
And just like that, a tweet appears with a discussion of coaches v teachers – have a look. http://gyrewide.com/2014/01/26/1119/