Summer is always the perfect time for teachers to reflect back on their past experiences, evaluate personal and professional growth, and set some goals for the upcoming year. As I reflect back on my first few years of teaching, one of the things that comes to mind immediately is my first few “first days” of school.
My first year of teaching, I taught 7th grade math and science. Since my class periods were only 50 minutes long, it was not difficult to decide what to do on the first day of school: introduce myself, teach class rules and expectations, give an overview of what we would be learning this year, and if time allowed do some kind of an icebreaker.
After teaching seventh grade for one year, I was fortunate to find a position in the grade that I had had my heart set on since making the decision to become a teacher: fifth grade. As the new school year approached, I was excited to be teaching the age group and curriculum I felt were best suited to me given my strengths as a teacher. But as the first day of school approached, a new thought occurred to me: What am I going to do with these kids all day long on the first day of school? I knew jumping into curriculum immediately was not wise. I knew that I needed to establish some ground rules, set expectations, and begin teaching procedures. I knew I needed to spend significant time getting to know the students, letting them get to know me, and letting them get to know each other. But what would this look like? Hadn’t I done it all the year before in only 50 minutes? What was I going to do with a full day’s worth of time? Continue reading