So, I know that some of you are in deep and rolling with your school year, but here in South Jersey, we don’t head back (officially) until September 4th (for teachers) and September 6th (for students).
Anyway, if you are like me and NOT back to school yet, then this post is for you! (If you’re back to school already, save this post for next year!!)
If you follow me on FB or IG, then you know that this year I will be hosting a student teacher! EEK!! I am so excited! She did a fieldwork placement with me in the spring, so I already know that I love her and can’t wait to work with her. So many of you reached out, sharing what an amazing experience it was for you to work with a student teacher, and I already know this is going to be awesome.
Many of you mentioned that one thing it did was make you a better teacher because you really had to up your game. I can already tell this is the case because I’ve been digging deep and reflecting on what I’ve done in the past to start the year, and I’m finding that I’m replacing some older back-to-school activities that I’ve typically done and with more thoughtful, relationship-building ones. The one thing that I’ve stressed to my student teacher is that building relationships is THE single most important thing you do in your room, so I needed to make sure that I was really modeling that for her.
Anyway, here is my plan for the first week of school (and yes, I know that it’s technically more than a week, but those first two days hardly count!!):
Day 1: On the first day, all our students on our team spend the entire day in homeroom. It is an early dismissal day, and after they go to specials and lunch, we have very little time with them. Much of that time is spent giving them a tour of our building (it’s their first time there) and practicing with our lockers (which are also a first!). I’ve learned in the past to not schedule too much during this time because the lockers are
a nightmare time-consuming and angst-producing! Also, all my students already know each other from our summer program and so we don’t have to do a ton of team-building. I do plan to play a quick game of “Hot Seat” with them (available in this bundle here) and review their agenda books with contain some essentials that they need to know.
Day 2: This is our first day switching, so we will get to meet all our students. I’m taking a page from this blog post and doing something fun and different to get kids excited and talking without too much pressure. My plan is for my student teacher and me to join a group for each question and participate, too.
Day 3: So this will be the day we go over “all the stuff.” Tour of the classroom, library, bulletin boards, etc. We will discuss the team rules and the classroom rules (which is easy, ’cause I literally have one… don’t be a punk! I kid, I kid!! But… not really. I’m not big on rules. I expect you to think lots and don’t make life difficult for anyone. Pretty easy.). I also hand out the Library Permission Slips and explain that they need to be back on Thursday so we can do something fun on Friday!
Day 4: Giving an escape room a try this year!! This is something I added to make all the beginning of the year stuff easier to swallow. I’m hoping that while kids are working, we will be able to lean in and listen, as well as work with small groups, both of which will help build relationships.
Day 5: I always giving a Reading and Writing Inventory (found here). This tells me a lot that I need to know about how kids see themselves as readers and writers. Once that’s done, we will do a few Icebreakers That Rock! I’ve been using these for a few years and they are amazing! We never get through all of them, and so I use the remaining throughout the year when we just need a brain-break or quick filler.
Day 6: Timed writing day. Not really fun. Not super-exciting. But, it is a great way to see where kids are in September. Also, these are so fun to give back in June and hear kids say, “Wow! I used to be so bad at writing! I’m so much better now!” Our district provides the prompt for this, and for 7th grade, it has something to do with how a school should spend surplus student council money, so a persuasive/argument piece.
Day 7: Book Tasting Day!! This is also something new that I’m adding. Yes, I’ve done lots of these, but not really until later in the year. This year, though, I thought it would be so fun to do one early! I hope to do a Book Raffle, ala my girl, Ashley Bible, with the books that seem to be most popular after our tasting.
Phew!! I’m exhausted just writing this out! I can already feel that teacher-tired sinking into my bones. I have such a love/hate with Back-to-School! Please tell me you do, too!!