Organize students in rows alphabetically as a convenient way to remember their names. Once they are settled in their seats, I will introduce myself and give my “Welcome Speech”. The speech is meant to motivate and inform students of the upcoming year. I begin by reminding students that they are in an excellent school with a lot of opportunities. I mention several of the in school and after school programs, the field trips we've planned, and the school functions/parties during the year.
I transition into the expectations that I have for them in my classroom. I let them know that it will be a challenging year where we will cover many topics.
Next, I share a little of my background, both personal and academically. I let them know that teaching isn't my first career, but I have always had a love of math.
Finally, I stress the importance of creating a positive classroom environment of respect and discuss what this means to me. I emphasize that students should feel welcome, respected, and valued in my classroom at all times. I state that students should give 100% of their focus and energy when in class.
Note: Make sure the speech is a positive one and begins and ends on a high note.
Hand out a lined index card to each student. Explain or write on the board what students should write on the card. Students will fill out index cards with their name, contact phone numbers, and homeroom. Explain to students that this information is for you to have in case you need to contact their parents. Since students are always hesitant about a teacher calling home, I explain to them that I often make positive phone calls when they are doing well in class.
I keep these cards at home because I often make phone calls in the evening when parents are home from work.
Students will pass around rolls of toilet paper, ripping off as many squares as they want with a maximum of 10. They will not know what the tissues are for. I will explain to students that for each square the students will tell us one fact about themselves. I will give examples such as their favorite color, number of siblings, kinds of pets, ... Students can write down their facts on the toilet paper if they think they will forget them before they have the opportunity to share. After giving students a couple of minutes to think about what they want to share I will randomly select students to share with the class.
This activity serves the purposes of students learning about each other, me learning a little about them, and serving as an exercise of how well students listen to one another. If students have listened to one another respectfully, I will acknowledge their behavior for positive reinforcement. If some students have interrupted or were distracted during the exercise, I will discuss how important it is to listen and respect one another. I will introduce the concept of treating the classroom as a community in which everyone is accepted. I will explain to them that everyone should be respected in my classroom and it's unacceptable for anyone to feel bullied, disrespected, or made fun of.