Seven Things Students Want to Know
Many have said that students want to know seven things on the first day of school, thus, effective teachers plan their first day of school accordingly. The seven things students want to know on the first day of school are:
1. Am I in the right room? For many students, who come from dysfunctional families or challenging neighborhoods, school can be a safe and consistent haven. Help the students to look forward to coming to school by providing hall guides, signs, and welcome messages on the most important day of the school year. The First Days of School states that we celebrate the wrong day at school, which is graduation day. Many students never see their graduation day and this may be because we never start them off correctly. I will be standing at the door, helping anyone who needs help. A sign will be on the door as well as the chalkboard of the classroom with my name and other welcoming and supporting information.
2. Where am I supposed to sit? You have two choices, open seating or assigned seating. When the students enter the classroom of an effective teacher, they all know where to stand, sit, or be. Thus, when you greet your students at the door on the first day of school, you might want to assign the seating for that day immediately. This can be done in many different ways and suggestions are made in the book, The First Days of School, or the video series, The Effective Teacher. Students will have assigned seating in my science class. This method fosters heterogeneous cooperative learning groups which have been proven to enhance student participation and engagement throughout the school year.
3. What are the rules in this classroom? Every student knows that he or she is to behave. They are just waiting for the discipline plan to be revealed so that they know the limits on the classroom. Effective teachers have a hard copy of a discipline plan ready for explanation.
Every student will get a copy of the classroom rules and consequences, a copy will be sent home, a large copy will to be posted on the classroom wall, and extra copies will be made available as new students enter throughout the school year.
4. What will I be doing this year? Effective teachers manage their classrooms with procedures, whereas ineffective teachers discipline the students with threats and punishments. The key word to understand is "procedures." Procedures have to do with teaching students what to do in the classroom, such as what to do if the teacher wants the class's attention, what to do upon entering the classroom, and how to make entries in a journal. The first two weeks of school I will be working with students on how to be responsible for their behavior and their learning. We have a number of group projects and lab assignments this year. I understand that students want to succeed and they want to be taught how to do things, but they can only succeed if they are shown the procedure for how to do things.
5. How will I be graded? Although it is perfectly understandable that students want to know about their grade, I am much more concerned with getting the students to complete the assignments and passing the tests. Grades are the after-effect of the assignment and the test. I do not grade using the "curve." In my classroom, the students earn their own grade based on their mastery of the learning criteria. The grading system in my class is simple and straight forward: 1) Group Assignments 30% of your grade, 2) Unit Tests 30% of your grade, 3) Pop Tests 15% and 4) Lab Assignments 25%
6. Who is the teacher as a person? I will take a small section of a bulletin board and create a "personality bulletin board," which contains a collage of personal items about me, such as pictures and objects about my life, work, and family. If you are a K-1 teacher, you may find this more effectively done by placing objects about yourself in a bag and pulling the objects out one at a time and discussing each-a teacher's own show and tell. We've had our students bring objects about themselves to be posted on a personality bulletin board showing the students' work and their achievement. Using this technique the message is made clear that every person in the classroom is important.
7. Will the teacher treat me as a human being? Everyone wants to be treated with respect, dignity, and love, whether that person is a teacher, administrator, or student. You have seven seconds to create that perception beginning with
- how you treat yourself with respect, dignity, and love,
- how you greet your students at the door,
- how you dress,
- what signs are posted in your classroom,
- the message on the chalkboard,
- the obviousness that you are organized and ready, and
- that you are in control of the learning environment for the classroom.
The ineffective teacher is more concerned with doing "my thing" and can't wait to start with a fun activity so that he or she can be the student's friend or pal. The students are not looking for fun. They are looking for security, consistency, respect, dignity, and care and you can convey that message on the first day of school by conveying how well you are organized. Your classroom management skill will tell the students if the class will be exciting or boring, whether they will learn or fail, and if you will light or blow out their candle.