The First Day

The first week brings many challenges. Students are going through emotional rollercoasters including loops of nervousness and excitement. For parents from the community, it may be their precious child’s first day of preschool. I saw it all this week, from parents taking photos of their child in preschool, to students running frantically in the halls and teachers making an effort to teach and maintain order. In my own classes, I faced students lying about their names, not wanting to participate, and showing some sassy attitude. There is also a beauty in the ability to switch subjects in the middle of the week. For example, I teach PE on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and Music on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It adds a tiny bit of stress, but keeps me on my toes. Yet, even with all of the switching subjects midweek and establishing routines, I must say that the first day was pretty successful!

Would you like to know what the first day of school was like? Lots of names. Lots and lots of names. It’s unrealistic for one person to learn 120 names in just one day. Yet, I tried… and failed. Even now I think it is pretty safe to say that I only KNOW about 2/3rds of the names (yes, I am terrible with names). What we did was lots and lots of names games. Each grade roughly had the same plan, with differentiation for more age appropriate activities. For example, 4th, 5th, and 6th grades played a lot of team building games, such as the knot game. The knot game is when everyone forms a circle and grabs the hands of the person on the opposite end with one hand. With the other hand they have to grab another person’s hand. The goal is the find a way to untangle the circle without letting go of the hands. Younger students played the name game and then did some rhythm games. There were a lot of smiles.

While I felt that overall the day went well, I will say my last period of the day was a challenge . I teach the first graders at the end of the day and one of my biggest issues as a teacher occurred during that forty minute period. Just when you think you have established enough structure, the first graders show you, the teacher, that you really have not. I saw everything in that period. Students biting each other, students hitting each other and finally that little group of girls in the corner just trying to figure out what is going on in the class. My goal for the period was the get through everyone’s names and have an opportunity for every student to share their name and something about themselves. I think I got through about 10 of my 22 students before I moved on to “plan B”. Was I frustrated? Absolutely, but I learned that this specific group of students needed more structure than I provided.

If there is anything that I learned from that as a teacher, it is that you’re going to have good periods and not so good periods. It is up the teacher to change the mindset in order to be the most effective teacher for the students.

I will say that the next day with the first graders went much smoother than the first!

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