Students started their first day of the 2016-17 school year this past Thursday. The school busses rolled up to the school curb around 8:15 and dropped off their students. Excited and anxious students came off the bus and directed themselves towards their teacher’s line. Teachers stood with clipboards ready to meet students and match a name with a face. Some students knew exactly where to find their line while others were confused because this was a brand new experience for them. Teachers came to the aid of those students that needed help to redirect them to the correct teacher line. High-fives and hugs were prevalent as teachers and students started the year off by making meaningful connections.

There’s nothing quite like the first day of school for students and teachers alike. There’s a sense of optimism and a fresh slate. This is part of the uniqueness of being a teacher. My first day plans seem to change every year. The changes are small, but I’m always looking for ways to optimize that first day to start off the year on the right foot. The emphasis is always on building a classroom community. This emphasis continues throughout the school year, but is much more prevalent during the first week of school. As students entered my class they saw the slide below.

Students generally find their own seat. This year I had students use a sort to get to know each other and what they did this summer.

I gave students around three minutes to find matches. Afterwards the class discussed anything that surprised them. I had a few volunteers add to the discussion. I introduced myself to the students. The majority of them know about me as they see me in the hallway of the school or they’ve had me in another class. I intentionally spent some time to describe my family and hobbies.

After about 10 minutes the class moved on to the next activity. I borrowed Sara’s 100 task activity. Feel free to check out the link for exact directions and make sure to follow her @saravdwerf. Basically, students are placed in groups and asked to find 100 numbers in sequential order. Students are given three minutes for the first trial.

Teams have to work together to find the numbers. After the first trial most groups found between 10-20 numbers. I asked the groups to discuss strategies and gave them a second trial. During the second trial students identified 30-40 numbers. After the second trial students were given more time to discuss strategies needed to accomplish the task. I then divided the board into quadrants. I didn’t give students any more specifics and let them discuss strategies. The majority of the groups were able to find all 100 numbers during the third trial. During that time I took pictures of the groups and then the class created an anchor chart on what quality collaboration looks/sounds like. The chart is not complete as the class will add more details next week.

Afterwards, students started to fill out their ‘about me’ puzzle piece. On each piece students wrote specific information about themselves. Eventually the pieces will be posted in the classroom.

Students didn’t finish their puzzle piece but that’s fine. They’ll continue working on that during day two. We didn’t even open up our math journal for the first day and that’s also fine. Building a classroom community is important and that’s our focus for that first day. These relationships will be foundational for this school year. Next week the class will be discussing how to have a growth mindset and we’ll be starting Number Talks. I’m looking forward to the adventure!