Authored by: Tim Dixon-Laurel. Tim teaches technology to K-6 students in Landover, MD. His passions are discovering and using technology integration in instruction, and going to sporting events with his family.
A new school year is here again, and like all teachers, I am thinking about how to channel my nerves and excitement into a good start. Here are four of my tested strategies to get the year off on the right foot:
- Get to Know Your Students – and then identify their strengths and skills. I work in an elementary school, so I like to have them draw a picture of their neighborhood on the first day. Ask students to describe their family, and to list some interests. Give lots of informal assessments over the first two weeks to help identify learning styles and strengths/weaknesses.
- Set the Tone – have students start a digital portfolio the includes their goals and expectations for the year. Have them make weekly entries that reflect on how their year is progressing, identify areas of help that they might need, and where they feel like they’re doing well. Share with parents and renew the portfolios personally. Speaking of parents – gather parent emails, enroll students in Google Classroom (or your platform of choice), and enroll parents as well. You can even have your students help design the class site with information for the families.
- Discover How Your Students Work Together – Facilitate many group activities in the first few weeks. Mix up the student groups, and watch to identify strength and weakness of working in groups. Develop strategies to help address weaknesses, and build on strengths.
- Have fun! Remember, you’re spending the next several months with these students, so don’t let the little things get in the way of learning and having fun. They are children and they will learn better when they enjoy what they’re doing.
Don’t let one bad day with a students/parent/peer define your relationship for the year. Work to avoid drama, and develop strong working relationships from the get-go. Include parents in the classroom fun when possible, because some days they are just as stressed out as you! Engage students in new and exciting technology, and make sure to focus on outcomes, not just using tech for the sake of using it.