Here is the inspirational story of a very amazing educator, Dr. Kim Lawe. I worked with her at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Eastvale, CA, before I retired last June. In this brief video she shares a little about her family’s escape by boat from Communist Viet Nam following the fall of Saigon, and her work as an educator.
As a new school year approaches, teachers all over the country are considering ways to create the best of all possible first days. Here are a few thoughts.
Think about what you want to accomplish with your kids, right from the start. Certainly classroom management is important, but prevailing educational philosophy suggests classroom management is easiest when students are actively engaged in stimulating and meaningful activity. So avoid reading aloud a list of your classroom rules and expectations or your course syllabus. And for goodness sake, don’t plan a lecture. It’s a snore for the kids, and your throat will be sore by the end of the day.
To create a memorable first day, plan an activity that introduces your classroom values. Presumably these values would include respect for peers and working well together. Consider ice-breakers that encourage human interaction. Reward them for learning the names of their classmates. As for yourself, strive to learn the names of your students as quickly as possible so that you can greet them by name on their second day. Also, create activities that give kids opportunities to help you and their classmates get to know what is unique about them. Example activities would include a round of Two Truths and a Lie, a Shoe Pile Mingle, or Never Have I Ever.
Another oft-expressed classroom value emphasizes the joy of learning. Many teachers want their class to be an exciting adventure as they and their kids explore learning together. Crafting an activity that is interactive introduces this classroom value right from the beginning. So plan something interactive, such as a trivia game, collaborative drawing, or a scavenger hunt.
Whatever you plan for that first day, just be sure it is stimulating and engaging. The time will be well spent if the effort kicks off the school year with a sense of excitement for your class or subject. And that list of classroom rules an expectations and the course syllabus? Consider emailing these to parents before the school year begins, and have them reply that they have received it, perhaps with a simple phrase such as “I Agree.” Or use the communication as an opportunity to invite parents to dialogue with you about their child’s individual needs or concerns.
Above all, have a great year!
After a 36-year career as an English teacher and District Librarian in the Corona Norco Unified School District, Chalkboard Champions author Terry Lee Marzell retires! After being honored at the monthly meeting of her school’s Leadership Team, she bids a tearful farewell to her colleagues at Eleanor Roosevelt High School.
In previous posts I have expressed my strong belief that, like classroom teachers, school counselors are chalkboard champions, too. So it truly excites me to discover that our nation’s First Lady, Michelle Obama, also values the hard work and commitment these dedicated professionals provide to our young people. In a White House ceremony held Friday, January 6, Mrs. Obama honored fifty of our nation’s most talented school counselors, and recognized one of them, Terri Tchorzynski from Battle Creek, Michigan, as the School Counselor of the Year.
Terri works at the Calhoun Area Career Center in Battle Creek, Michigan. A graduate of Central Michigan University and Spring Arbor University, this dedicated educator has been a high school counselor for seven years. Previous to her service in this capacity, Terri served as an English teacher and girls’ varsity basketball coach. One of Terri’s most impressive achievements as a counselor was the creation of school-wide college-readiness program.
The ceremony to recognize the work of school counselors is part of Mrs. Obama’s Reach Higher initiative. The fifty finalists who attended the White House event were selected by the American School Counselor Association. The criteria used to select the honorees include creative school counseling innovations, effective school counseling programs, leadership skills, and contributions to student achievement.
Well done, Terri, and congratulations to the 49 other honorees! As Mrs. Obama said, “You are Heroes!”