The first day of school sets the mood for the entire academic year… and arguably there has never been a more challenging and uncertain reentry to school life. Whether you’re 100% back to the classroom, continuing with online learning or working with a hybrid of both, this back to school is going to be a whole new experience for everyone. So what steps can you as an educator take to form that all-important first impression whilst making an unusual back to school experience as relaxing and welcoming as possible?
Self-introduction—where does it begin?
Your introduction starts even before you have stood in front of the classroom and opened your mouth. Your class’s first impression of you will have begun long before then. Were you in the room (or zoom call) waiting for them, did you have a full online schedule ready for them, or were you 10 minutes late, panting and frantically unpacking your bags?
How you present yourself in these first moments of the day will have a lasting impact on your pupils. If you are commuting, consider starting a half-hour early to ensure that you are there before students begin to arrive. If you’re teaching online, give some thought to your background and how you can prevent disturbances during your synchronous learning time. Regardless of your teaching location, being prepared and ready to focus on your new class establishes an immediate relationship of mutual respect. You are showing that you value your classes learning time and they should mirror this consideration.
Get a routine nailed – even if you’re not sure how long it will last!
It’s certainly easier said than done in the ever-changing current situation, but having some outlined consistency and routine from the get-go will help soothe everybody. This could include more typical organizational mechanisms like timetables and seating arrangements, or it could be setting expectations for online etiquette, getting device logins sorted and a Zoom call schedule in place. In many schools, a thorough introduction to appropriate social distancing and new hygiene expectations will also need to be introduced and adopted into the daily routine.
In even the most disorganized of situations where you’re not sure what is happening each day to the next, try to find the constants that will help your students (and yourself) feel somewhat in control. It may even be wise to develop some A and B plans in case full online learning will have to be quickly reinstated. Give students the tools and prep they need to switch quickly between remote and ‘in-school’ modes.
I love https://t.co/8Dz9A4hdce 💜 and my 3rd grade students they love it too. Today we were doing video comments to record their Ancient Greek projects. They loved it.
Now I’m doing the Kami Fundamentals Course to get Certified 💜
I’m si happy 🍎@usekamiapp #KamiforSchools pic.twitter.com/j016wplKI3
— Claudia Hott (@ClaudiaHott3) August 26, 2020
Dealing with unpredictable events
It’s the first day back of one of the most tumultuous years education has seen. Old routines are out the window, everyone has forgotten their device logins and the novelty of mask-wearing and social distancing is wearing thin. It is forewritten that something unexpected will happen. So whether it’s an internet outage or a behavior incident you weren’t expecting, be prepared to assert control over the situation.
In the eyes of your class, this is the first test of your mettle and will define who they perceive as in charge. In all events stay calm and focused, regardless of the true levels of panic you may feel. It might not bring a huge impact to you, but the way in which you handle unforeseen contingencies properly will always leave a mark on your students. Moving through lessons and activities, with great ease, will not go unnoticed.
— Kami (@usekamiapp) August 24, 2020
Introducing yourself in more ways than one
Let’s start with the basics: do not start your class without telling everyone your name and explaining the role you will play in their academic life. A great, old school way to do this is to write your name on the whiteboard and explain a little bit about yourself and your background as a teacher. If you’re not in the classroom try prepping a quick slideshow to present on you or send a little written introduction out before your first class call.
To build more fulfilling relationships with your students consider some creative interactive activities to help everyone get to know each other better. You could try:
- Favorites: In this game get everyone to compile their favorite of something. For example, English teachers may want to focus on books, but anything can work from celebrities to films. The aim is to share some details about yourself in a fun environment and also learn something about your student’s tastes.
- What’s in the background: For Zoom based classes you can have lots of fun showing your personality in the background of your webcam. Get your students to ask about things they see which are interesting or even take it up a level and set up a scavenger hunt with things to spot.
- Truth or lie: Write down some statements about yourself, half of which are true and half false. Show this list to your class and explain that only half the facts are true. Let your students try to work out which are the lies. When the truth has been revealed, reverse the game and have your students write two true statements about themselves and two lies.
- Numbers: This is a great way to get some maths going again. Compile some numbers about yourself e.g. age, birth date, size of family, etc. Then create some maths questions that need to be figured out in order to find your key number. So 5 x 6 to get to your age.
Whatever your back to school plan looks like, keep calm, trust in your skills, and enjoy the surprises your students will throw at you. We wish you the best of luck!
🎓 Get ready for your back to school
Do you have the digital tools you need to get the most of the next school year? Check out the Kami app today to learn more about harnessing tech in the classroom.