things to do on the first day [or month] of school

I was reading What Ed Said blog and this post struck a cord with me. Next week during the first 3 days of school, which are pupil free for teacher professional development, my only session with the staff has a little of this theme; “What’s important to do during the first month on school in every class”.

Like Ed said

  1. Ask about their expectations.
  2. Create an essential agreement.
  3. Know everyone’s story.
  4. Arrange seats to encourage collaboration.
  5. Demonstrate that you value thinking.
  6. Talk about learning.
  7. Ensure they know that they own their learning.
  8. Make sure you listen.
  9. Show you’re a part of the learning community.
  10. Laugh…

I think these are important but I would add a few. We are trying to differentiate our curriculum and instruction for students and so in order be be successful we need to prepare students, parents and our colleagues. I’m using the work of Carol Tomlinson here:

And a second clip on seizing opportunities and building bridges with students


So I would add

11. Organise your classroom so that students can be independent – have things they need accessible, labelled, with clear processes for setting up and returning materials, with anchor charts constructed with students on things like learning tools and known thinking strategies.

12. Plan activities and conversations that demonstrate difference and the values and practices we need for everyone to learn. Then talk about what fairness look like in the classroom and for learning.

13. Use the current student achievement data to get started now and forming flexible groupings so that learning can occur. Work over the first 6 weeks to collect more assessment data that informs you want they need to learn next.

14. Support students learning to set personal learning goals and encourage self assessment and reflection on those goals.

15. Use their digital tools for learning and communication.

15. Bring parents as partners into the conversations. 

What might you add to this list?

Jaye McTighe on the ASCD site talks about learning to surf as a reminder of what learning looks and feels like.

A little post it note. After I used ththese clips I gave teachers time over the first 3 pupil free days to do this work of setting up classrooms and discussing in teams what strategies to do to get to know the students and for them to get to know one another. Really positive feedback. In fact I quote from a teacher  “I feel a sense of happiness” – I think that is about teachers being heard and respected to do the work.

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2 Responses to things to do on the first day [or month] of school

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  2. Nina Davis says:

    I also read ‘What Ed Said’. This is a great post, and I agree with everything. The IB-PYP embraces each. My preps label their own books, bag space – everything. They may not be able to write their name correctly, can copy if they wish, but they can recognise their own things better than a teacher made label. Ownership from day one. It takes a bit longer, but fits nicely into our inquiry – How we organise ourselves? I hand over the responsibility, not easy at first but they’re very capable. Thanks for sharing this.
    Cheers Nina

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