Many moons ago, Todd asked, “How Was It For You?” Since he started about a week ahead of me, I couldn’t respond at the moment, but in the spirit of reflective teaching, I’ll now answer the same questions he asked himself.
What went well? Did you do anything this year that you keep telling yourself you should do?
While nothing went totally pear-shaped, I’ve had better first days. My enthusiasm levels were, admittedly, much higher than I thought they’d be, but it didn’t rub off on the kids. My kids’ responses to me on last year’s opening day wowed me; I guess I was spoiled. Like Todd, I did an activity with songs with my sophomores, did a Stick Figure Theatre show with my Shakespeare class, and asked my Multicultural Studies class if “tolerance” was something to strive for. I don’t think my kids were prepared to have the onus of activity put on them from the first day, because they never quite got up to speed. I ended that first day a bit down, but I’m happy to report that everyone is into the swing of things by now, and I’m really enjoying all my classes.
Did you start off with the right tone? Is there anything you’re not happy with? Did you do that thing again that you keep telling yourself not to do?
Despite what I said above, I think that from a planning standpoint, this year was the tightest I’ve been (as it should be). Structured questions and activities with almost no downtime (there was that time that my tablet froze up and prevented me from opening my attendance). I went out of character and did an ice-breaker activity with my Shakespeare class. I’m normally not a fan of the ice-breaker in an educational setting, but some criticism I got from last year’s Shakespeare students was that they felt intimidated to read aloud and act because they didn’t feel entirely comfortable doing so in front of a bunch of strangers. I don’t know how much of that is valid, but I figured I’d give it a shot to see if it made a difference. It seems to have (see below).
Looking back, if I had to do anything differently, I’d probably have spent less time on administrivia in my Multicultural Studies class. I still have yet to find an awesome opening activity that really fits the context of that class. It wasn’t a disaster, and the kids were respectful, but it wasn’t my best performance of the day, either.
How are your classes looking, just from your brief introduction?
Like I said, I wasn’t impressed with the participation on the first day, but I guess that has to be expected. That has improved tenfold in just a week, and though we still have a ways to go, we’re definitely moving in the right direction, especially in my Shakespeare class. There are a lot of students in that class who are willing to take risks and read and act, which was something I felt was slightly lacking the last time I taught the course. Our new principal is cracking down on tardies with a few new policies, and in the first week they seem to be working out well – not just in my classes, but schoolwide.
So there we have it. Tomorrow my sophomores are getting set up with their Twitter and Wikispaces accounts (reviewing my plans, 84 minutes may not be long enough – Twitter might have to wait until Monday), my Shakespeare kids will be doing more acting, as well as watching the first act of Trevor Nunn’s Twelfth Night, and my Multicultural Studies students will watch a video on American neo-Nazis and discuss the connection between extremism and education. It should be a great day and a nice transition into the weekend.