I can't believe that I said goodbye to last year's class just 64 days ago. I can't believe that my 62-day summer has come and gone and that the kids are coming tomorrow. I'm ready. I think. You never really know for sure in this line of work. At the very least, I've done all the regular things I normally do to prepare plus some new things too.
I'll tell you what I'm NOT ready for...the heat. The forecast is for a gorgeous 95 degree day in MA. When I popped in my classroom this afternoon it was 84 degrees. It is exponentially warmer once the little heat-makers arrive. I plan to wear my Hogwart's cloak when I meet these kids. I predict that they'll be some perspiration to go with our inspiration.
My plans, although flexible, are penciled in. Due to the heat, we'll go SLOW. We'll begin the day by just chatting and getting re-connected. Then we'll introduce the #classroombookaday challenge by reading our first picture book together. I've selected Sometimes You Fly by Katherine Applegate. I love everything about this book. From the sweet, sweet, illustrations to the poignant message, this book is perfect for a first day of school read.
Then comes the big sorting. Each kid will be called to sit on the stool in front of their peers and will place the sorting hat on his or her heads and instantly find out which of the four Hogwarts houses he or she will be placed in. Houses are sort of a big deal. A student's house is his or her micro-community. They'll work with this small group (5-6 witches or wizards total) throughout the year. While they'll have lots of opportunities to work in pairs and groups with students from other houses, they'll work with these students on many project and problem solving activities. As a result, we'll do a lot to build relationships here so that they are primed for collaboration.
Our first real task is a team building math task. To learn more about it, see Sara Van Der Werf's blog. Establishing some norms for teamwork will be essential if students in our class will contribute to their group and learn from members of the group.
There will need to be some time made for housekeeping (moving into lockers and desks, passing out notices, practicing the fire drill procedures, dealing with school-supplies etc.) I'll try to move through these tasks with great efficiency so that we can stay focused on the important task of relationship building.
We'll finish our day with two grand finale-type events. First, we'll watch the Flipgrid videos that students produced during the last week of summer in order to introduce themselves to their classmates. (I'll scramble during the day to help any student who wasn't able to produce a video so that he or she has a video to share too!) Finally, we'll take to brooms for the first flying lesson of the year. As their teacher, I'm going to ask these kids to put aside their fears and to trust me quite a bit this year. This activity really is just about having fun. Still, I know I'll notice who the eye-rollers are and who jumps in with both feet. No matter what reaction they put out there for public consumption, most kids remember their first flying lessons fondly during end-of-the-year reflections.
And, just before I say good-bye for the day, we'll circle-up and debrief. I'll pose just a few questions for their consideration:
I really do want to honor my commitment to using end-of-the-day reflection every day. I think it will be a great way to communicate out the learning, highlight accomplishments and set goals.
I can't wait to meet these kids tomorrow! But now, sleep! I know I'll need every drop of energy I can muster tomorrow.