First Day, First Week

First Day, First Week
Originally Posted 8/13/13: First Day, First Week
SAY WHAT?
The most horrid advice for my first day of school arrived in a grumbled angry rasp, “Be tough. You are too nice. Tough. Tell ’em how it is. Your way or the highway.” I ignored that advice. We all should ignore that disgruntled Scrooge. But I do have advice for everyone getting ready for their first day. Smile. Be genuine. Be fair. Be the light.I often included in my welcoming message, “I have thought about you long before you entered this room. I love teaching. You will see evidence of this. I have wondered about your interests, I have wondered about your talents. I have thought about the amazing awesome things you will accomplish this year. I already respect you, I already care about you because you are mine.”I CARE ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY…
I ask students to provide information about their expectations of me opposed to me dispersing a list of
rules. The information students provide when prompted is not only eye-opening, it is moving. The following is a list of prompts:
I used a Google form to create, and I embedded on my class website. I also made sure to include questions that related specifically to the class I would be teaching. The responses helped me reach students as readers, as writers, and as learners. Invite students to share what they are thinking. This invitation should be “mailed” on the first day. I wanted my group to know that I valued their contribution.1) I love it when teachers…
2) I hate it when teachers…
3) You will embarrass me if you…
4) If you are proud of me, please…
5) I hope we get to…
6) I hope we don’t…
7) I get frustrated when…
8) I feel supported when…
9) Before I come to school, my responsibilities include…
10) When I leave school, my responsibilities include…I CARE ABOUT WHO YOU ARE and WANT TO BE…
I read “The Dot” by Peter H. Reynolds. The message of creating and being proud of that creation sings from the pages of the book. My students heard that song as we sat on the floor in a circle, and they listened to me read to them as they were read to years ago. No high school student minded sitting on the floor. I had to invite them to do so as I wanted them to also see we would be free from the traditional sit in rows and stay still arrangement. The book ends, “…make a mark and see where it takes you.” I ask students to craft their mark. Their first writing/designing/photography prompt: What mark are you making? What mark do you wish to make?
WE ALL NEED INSPIRATION…
I AM FOR REAL…
I invite students to search me online. “Find me…everywhere. Tell me what mark I am making, what mark I have made, and infer what mark do you think I wish to make.” There is surprise that I am confident enough to invite my students to search for my digital footprint. If I am going to ask for respectful behavior and if I am going to ask my students to be ladies and gentlemen online, I want them to see the behavior I demonstrate. From what I write, what I tweet, and what I blog-they know I care about them, they know I love the education profession. As they dig into the web for information, I begin modeling effective net searching.

Students take time to watch TED videos. I show them how to search using their interest to find passionate people making their mark by sharing their “amazing awesome” work. Students search, view, and share their favorite video on the linoit community space. Students also give a short introduction to the video encouraging others to watch.

The first day is fast approaching for students and teachers alike. My advice: make your room a place students want to enter and create a space that is collaborative and inspiring. Last, but not least: Smile. Be genuine. Be fair. Be the light.