first day reflections

Even though the first week of school in BPS is only two days long (we start the Thursday after Labor Day), this one felt longer than a typical five-day week! We spent a lot of time preparing for the welcome back assembly, in meetings, and setting up the classroom. I also did a lot for after-school programs (scheduling, student recruitment, presentation for assembly, handouts, bulletin board, guest speakers from community organizations in advisory). I’m glad to be back in and in the school routine again though.

Greet and Seat – I had my intern create the seating groups for each class since he’d gotten to know them in pre-practicum, then made a few changes based on whether students would need more attention, needed to see the board, or would get along better with a different group. I also had him create index cards of fraction pairs for the seat-finding challenge (since the Tarsia card samples I found would take longer for the students to solve than I wanted). The fractions worked well, timing-wise, and having the seating chart as a reference helped us check their “work.” However, our first section was right after the welcome back assembly, where we were given the student IDs to hand out in class. The big rush of students and extra items to hand out made a big backlog at the door. Next time, I may let the students sit (to see where they choose to go) and then have them get up to find their actual seats.

Welcome Back – The short welcome back went fine.

Weekly Seating Change – I forgot to mention this in both classes! I’d forgotten to put it in the agenda on the board. All of the students should know how to handle the seating change on Monday (except those who were in my 9-person class and the one who transferred in from a different teacher’s class), so I will see how it goes.

Respect Exercise – This did not go well. I initially chose a Wikipedia article about Josiah Quincy and an ESPN article about the Patriots’ acquisition of Michael Hoomanawanui. Both articles were too long, at first the students I chose to read did not understand that they were supposed to read at the same time. The length of the reading caused the class to get antsy. For Section 2, I changed the reading material to the syllabus and to a short Onion article about the Cowboys and Giants. That class is a bit rowdier so the activity still did not go well.

Quiet Coyote – I tied this in with respect and an explanation about how yelling to get attention = not good. I think it made sense to the students. I did have to use this a lot more in Section 2.

31 Game – Using the 31 game as a way to assess learning styles was so helpful. The game was engaging and didn’t require the teacher to tell students whether they were right or not. My unexpected takeaway was the need for helping students deal with the feeling of “rage quitting.” To “rage quit” is to give up on something in a huff, often accompanied by an exclamation of frustration or a sulking expression. I noticed that some students kept at the 31 problem the whole time while others rage quit. I would like to work on fighting the urge to quit. I think this will go a long way in getting SBG to work better this year because the urge to quit prevents students from taking the steps for reassessment.

Survey – I moved the survey up rather than making it homework. I focused on computer, calculator, Internet, study habits, and concerns. My intern and I read through all the results after class, taking note of patterns and surprises. I will revisit the math attitudes survey next week.

3-2-1 Exit Slip – Give the students the following 3-2-1 writing activity: 3 goals for the year, 2 challenges, and 1 wish. Some students wrote much more than others, and a bunch of students forgot to do the 3-2-1 activity. I had put the directions on the board and explained them verbally

Homework – I sent home parent homework and the syllabus. I only had Section 2 on Day 2, and all of them brought back the syllabus. Several brought in parent homework (some for parents who did not use email, and some who did but chose to return the paper rather than emailing me).

Advisory – We combined with the other advisory section. We ended up doing a Four Corners activity with statements from the syllabus and the 31 Game. Four Corners is a debate activity in which students listen to statements such as “I feel confident about the PSAT” or “I understand what the school requires me to do for Creativity, Action, Service (CAS)” and then go to the corner of the room that is labeled with Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, Somewhat Disagree, or Strongly Disagree. I thought the Four Corners was great for getting a sense of where the group is with respect to college/career and for setting the tone that students will be working in Advisory this year (rather than having study halls or free time). I will bring out the detective activity later on in the semester.


  • Josie Glausen

    Sounds like your first day went great! I wish school started on a Monday though.. This whole two days and then the weekend doesn’t work for me. Half of my kids didn’t show up. What is Quiet Coyote?

    • Kristina

      Same, it would just make the week run smoother. Oh weird–I had all of mine (though a bunch showed up tardy). Quiet Coyote is a “quiet down” gesture where you hold your hand in the air in the shape of a coyote (whose ears are open and mouth is shut).

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