This unit is focused on building the essential foundation of a strong classroom community for the remainder of the year. These five lessons are representative of my first few days in the classroom, which always feel a little disjointed in regards to content or flow, but are all key pieces of establishing the different roles that my students and I will play throughout the year.
I think it is essential for students to know early and often that my classroom is a place where they will be challenged and supported. This initial lesson is meant to help them see that I care about who they are as humans, not just as students. The following lessons are meant to help me see who they are as students so that I can make sure I am caring for their learning needs as well.
With that in mind, you will see a couple of pre-assessments, a few goal-setting days and a few content based get to know you activities.
I teach in a school that integrates Social Studies and English. This means that there are two teachers with 60 kids in a two hour block every day. We are in a larger classroom, which we share with other teachers throughout the day. Thankfully, my students are used to this arrangement from their 9th grade cores, but it definitely makes it challenging to get to know all of them personally and quickly.
Today is our very first day of class. To help everyone learn names and to begin the process of building classroom community, my teaching partner and I will use this class period to focus on getting to know our students. With that in mind, we will not review class procedures or the syllabus at all today. Instead, we will have students work with a partner to prepare brief presentations about a new friend.
Before we set the students to their task, my teaching partner Jim and I will model the interview process by introducing each other to the class using answers to questions from the sheet we provide.
To make sure that students are not paired with their friends, we will have them line up based on height and then pair them off from one end of the line to the other. We will then give them a list of questions and ask them to get to know their partner well enough to share one or two interesting things about them in front of the class.
We will then randomly call on partners and have them get up to share one or two facts about their partners in front of the whole class (SL.9-10.1).
As we listen, my teaching partner and I will ask questions in an effort to get to know our students better. We will ask the rest of the class to listen and to take note of names that they may not know.
I like to use the last few minutes of class each day to wrap up, review or remind students about what we talked about during class. Since today's class was pretty laid back, I will use this time to see if students have any questions about me or our classroom set up. If there is time, I will also introduce the Master Teacher Project work that I will be doing this year and tell them that I will be giving them paperwork and more information in the coming days.