5 Things You Must Do Week 1

By on August 4, 2015

Welcome back! I hope all of you had a restful summer full of fun and adventure. Many of us start back to school early August (sigh) and some have already started (we feel for you). Either way, we are all back to school soon, so I would like to share some things I have learned over the past 13 years about the first week of school. This list is about setting up learning routines and structures that set your students up for success.

Must Do 1: Practice pair-share and moving in and out of groups

  • Create opportunities for students to move in and out of pairs and partner work 5-7 times a class period (or multiple times an hour if you teach elementary). Gamify the experience with a stopwatch. Challenge students to move in and out of groups in a few seconds. The goal is to reduce transition time. To make random pairs, use dice, playing cards, or name cards. 

Must Do 2: Set up a call to attention

  • Because our students will be moving around and talking numerous times the first week of school, set up a call to attention so that you can easily get your students quiet and refocused. If you have been in my workshops or read my eCoach posts, you know that I like to raise my hand high to signal that I want my students' attention. Some of you clap multiple times or use chants to get your students' attention. Use what works for you, but set it up day one and practice, practice, practice.

Must Do 3: Get familiar with your students' names (Do your best!)

  • Play name games or use name cards so that you can learn your students' names. Elementary folks, you have far fewer kids than secondary teachers, so your strategies might be different. Some secondary teachers will have 140+ students day one. This is a lot to remember. Do your best. Playing name games or using name cards will help you learn half of the names by the end of the week. If you use different colored name cards, you can use the colors to randomly group students for as long as you use the name cards.

Must Do 4: Send an email welcoming your families to your class

  • Introduce yourself. Say "Hi." Explain how they can contact you. Share with them how to look up homework assignments. Remember secondary teachers, parents don't meet you for weeks after the school year starts. Let your families know that you are thinking of them and tell them how awesome this year is going to be! 

Must Do 5: Establish learning routines 

  • Establish learning routines the first week of school. I like to set up one or two routines each day. If we give all of our routines in one day, we will have to remind our students for the next few weeks. Instead, set up routines for taking roll, calendaring, and daily activities/tasks throughout the first week. Everyday, review what they learned the day before and introduce a new routine. By the end of the week, students should know what to do and have some practice with each routine. It's okay if your learning routines spill over to the next week. By the end of the second week, your students should be able to move through your learning environments with confidence.  
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