Though I am privileged enough to be entering my third year, there's still nothing more nerve-racking than the first day you step in front of your new batch of students. Sunday night, I was in bed still wide-eyed at 4am.
Less than 4 hours later, I did the following:
1. Greeted students at the door w/ a smile and a formal introduction.--
2. Randomly assigned seats by handing out index cards containing a number matching a desk.
3. Asked students to fill out basic information, then an interest survey.
4. Opened up my speech by throwing the image of Jenga blocks on the board (which I'll explain in a future post)
5. Shared carefully selected parts of my life through a "Mr. G is..." slide.
6. Gave students the opportunity to share their own selves through stand up & sit down*
7. Gave students the opportunity to interact w/ their new classmates through a human scavenger hunt.
*Stand if you agree w/ the statement. Sit if you don't.
Decided to give this a go on the first day with reluctance; now, I'll never go a first day without it. The rules are simple; the results are strong. Through this, students build community on the outset. Take for example:
It takes a lot of courage to reveal your minority status to peers you've never met. I'm amazed at how steadily students stood when they were the only one who agreed with a statement. Further, mixing in the more intense is done as easily as the lighthearted:
1. I was born and raised in Oakland.
2. I speak two languages.
3. I want to be a doctor.
4. I was born in the year 1995.
5. I am excited about the school year.
6. I identify as black.
7. I identify as white.
8. I identify as latino/a.
9. I identify as arab.
10. I identify as asian.
11. I identify as other.
1. I believe racism is real.Even as a 3rd year teacher in Oakland and even though you expect it, you're still surprised to see the majority of the class on their feet with each statement.
2. I, or a member of my family, have been affected by racism.
3. I have lost someone to gun violence.
4. I have seen a gun.
And lastly, you can't help but feel good inside when you see not one person sitting with statements along the lines of:
1. I want to go to college.--
2. I think I can go to college.
3. I think I can do anything as long as I put my mind to it.
I write this post in gratitude to all teachers who've allowed me to beg, borrow, and steal my way to my third year. A good teacher friend of mine shared stand up, sit down enthusiastically. Thus, I gave it a shot.
Paying it forward, I did the same w/ every teacher I walked passed that day. Today, 2 shared that they gave it a go. Appropriately so. Good methods like this should spread like wildfire, and it's only through sharing that they do.