- First Day Jitters
The buses pull up to the curb. Doors slide open, and children with fresh haircuts and brand new sneakers climb off. Weighed down by backpacks stuffed full of school supplies, they find their places in line.
- Beneath the friendly smiles, shy grins, and steely gazes, we can sense our new students' excitement and anxiety. Feelings we recognize because we are feeling the same way. A new school year and an overwhelming sea of new faces-what lies in store for the year ahead?
As teachers, we know our new students come to us with apprehension. Will I know anyone in my class? Will I make new friends? Will my teachers be nice? Will I feel comfortable? Our students need to feel a sense of belonging. They need to feel comfortable and safe in order to take the risks necessary for learning. They need to feel valued for their strengths and their uniqueness and feel supported when it comes to their challenges. Taking the time to develop a sense of community within the classroom is the most important thing we can do to start off the school year. The time invested now pays off every single day throughout the year.
The first thing we do on the first day of school is get to work! Some students create sculptures, others make posters or fill out questionnaires. It is important to offer choice, so all students can find a "Just Right" way to express themselves.
Over the next several days we use our creations as a springboard for "Dynamic Discussions" during our concentric circle share. First, the teachers role-play a less than dynamic discussion; students are quick to make suggestions for improvement. Next, we brainstorm a "Recipe for Dynamic Discussions."
We are off to a great start and well on our way to becoming a caring community of learners!