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Friday, August 28, 2015

First Week of School Reflections

The first week is over, and it's time to reflect on what went right and what needs to be updated. Getting students acquainted with their peers and getting to know my students are at the top of my list. 

My developmental classes journal the first ten minutes of every class period, so I introduce myself to these students through the use of my Road of Life map. I always share my journal each class period, and some of my writings are personal. Therefore, I share more of myself and my life with them by going over my map then asking students to complete their own maps for future writing topics:

Another great way to get acquainted is to use the Find Someone Who... Bingo sheets, and I have several versions of this depending upon the grade level you teach. My composition students enjoy peer interaction after we go over the syllabi. Ask students to do a blackout Bingo to fill all the squares. I refrain from signing since students have my information on their syllabus. This completed handout is students' "go-to" sheet if they miss class or need extra help. Ask students to contact their study-buddies first, and then if more help is needed to contact the free tutors. I'm the last lifeline on the list once class times are over. 

The last activity is used as my own helper rather than for my students. I get new students every semester, so remembering their names is a challenge for me. Therefore, I hand each student a blank notecard. These can be color-coded by class, if desired. Next, on the board, I list: 

Phone (working)
Email (working)
How many courses are you taking?
What are your interests?
Anything else I should know about you...?

I hand each student one notecard and ask each to write down their information. The notecards are very helpful! Many students have new addresses and phone numbers by the time classes begin, so contact information in the college system is already outdated. Also, this activity helps me to understand students' workloads and home situations. For example, I have students with small children who may have to miss classes, or some work night jobs and struggle to make it to day classes. This activity makes me aware of these issues. Plus, I have a 7:00 a.m. class, and if I should happen to get up sick I use the notecard information to text students that class will not meet. My 7:00 a.m. dual credit high school students are appreciative of this! 

However, the best part of using notecards comes at the end of the class! I stand at the door to gather cards as students exit for the day. I address each student by name and try to put face and name together. Also, a firm handshake along with a "Glad you are in the class...Thanks for being here...See you next class...ect..." helps students feel welcome. I don't admit to them that my weakness is learning their names, but it really does take me awhile to put names and faces together. 

As I reflect on the first week of classes, my goal is to learn more about my students and to make them feel welcome in my classroom. Hopefully, some of these first week activities will work in your classroom.

Have a great start to the new school year!
Educator Helper

This week's freebie:

Visit my TpT storefront for the complete Abe Lincoln: Life and Times history comic coloring book with writing activities and more.