These first few weeks of school are exhilarating and exhausting for teachers. Establishing a community, building relationships with students, setting up class guidelines, making a good space for learning, getting organized with all those tech tools -- these are the items at the top of the to-do list for most teachers I know. But how do you settle down all those kids who have been running free-range all summer, and make both yourself and your students ready to dig in again to the work of teaching and learning? How do you focus on your classroom's culture while juggling the piles of paperwork and the housekeeping tasks that inevitably accompany those first few critical weeks?
I don't have all the answers -- but to lighten your load, this week's playlist is a bit of a back-to-school potpourri. I've got helpful tip videos for all grade levels, videos that let you peek inside the classrooms of other teachers in the first few days, hints for classroom management to use all year, and a couple of silly ones to keep you laughing through the first half of September. Enjoy!
Video Playlist: First Weeks of School
Keep watching the player below to see the rest of the playlist, or view it on YouTube.
- Creating Classroom Rules (01:44)
In this excerpt from the Creating Rules with Students in a Responsive Classroom DVD, watch a third-grade class as they create their set of classroom rules together. You can find lots more resources at the Responsive Classroom website.
- Attention-Getting Signals: Practice (01:13)
In this video from the Teaching Channel, instructional coach Nick Romagnolo shows how it's a good idea to choose your attention-getting signals in the first few weeks -- but the key to making them work is to practice them with the students!
- Bad Teacher. First Day (01:32)
I discussed Hollywood teacher stereotypes in a previous blog post, and Bad Teacher wins no prizes for uplifting the public opinion of teachers -- but you must admit this clip is good for a pained laugh.
- First Day of School Final Room Check (04:05)
Elementary teacher Betsy Weigle of the Classroom Teacher Resources blog walks you through the last few things she does before welcoming kids into her classroom. Find lots more tip videos -- on everything from tech integration to avoiding clutter -- on Betsy's YouTube channel.
- Sesame Street News Flash: The First Day of School (02:43)
I'll admit it, I'm a child of the seventies, and vintage Sesame Street clips make me all warm and muppet-y fuzzy. Cookie Monster expresses first-day anxiety to Kermit's roving reporter ... "What if me no can find pencil?"
- Middle School Teaching Advice: First Day of School Activities for Secondary School (02:24)
Though it's a simple talking head video, I liked the down-to-earth style of teacher Anto Boghokian and his practical thoughts on how to level with middle school kids in the first few days and strike the perfect balance between work and fun. Check out additional videos from eHow Education.
- Tips for Teachers: Volume 1 - Classroom Arrangement (02:54)
How the desks are arranged can make a big difference in the learning environment. I've excerpted the section about the best use cases for various seating arrangements from this fun video created by a grad student for an educational psychology class.
- Hancock High Staffulty Performs Flash Mob to "Call Me Maybe" (03:23)
Staffers at this high school in Mississippi did a full dance routine for the students on the first day. Depending on your personality, you'll either be cringing and thanking your lucky stars this isn't your school, or you'll be planning your own flash mob for next year. (Bonus: This song inspired a tidal wave of parodies this summer, including this teacher-made welcome video, "Study Maybe".)
- Teacher Tips: First Two Weeks of School (02:17)
TeAchnology.com gives five tips for teacher survival in the first few weeks of school. Video quality is fairly low, but the ideas are good -- a reminder that simple things, like being sure you have enough support outside of school, and writing up a list of things you need to do, can make a big difference in your state of mind.
- Teacher Tipster (Silly-Brations) (03:35)
The jubilant Mr. Smith of Teacher Tipster shares how he celebrates both the behavioral and the academic successes of his students in class with "silly-brations." Warning: Extreme silliness could make you smile. May not be suitable for sullen middle school kids.
- 10 Tips to Creating a More Welcoming School Community! (04:01)
A nice roundup of positive ways to celebrate diversity and build community in your classroom from RaceBridges for Schools, an organization dedicated to making connections between different cultures in school through stories. They offer free resources and lesson plans on their website.
- Building a Culture for Learning (03:19)
This video introduces and promotes the Developmental Study Center's program "Caring School Community," and offers a few good ideas for small things you can do to to make your K-6 classroom a positive space for teaching and learning.
More Resources for Back-to-School Survival
- "Get Off to a Smart Start," resource roundup from Scholastic
- "Back-to-School Guide," resource roundup from the National Education Association (NEA)
- "It's That Time Again," resource roundup from MiddleWeb
- "Back-to-School Guide For Beginning Teachers," from Education World
- Building Classroom Community Topic Page from Responsive Classroom
- "Establishing Classroom Rules: Professional-Development Resources, Recommended Reading, and Classroom Activities," by Phil Nast, National Education Association (NEA)