The absolute most important day of the school year is the first!
This is where you have one hour, maybe less, to make a 185 day lasting impression on your students. The younger you are and the fewer amount of years you've been teaching the more difficult this is.
In college they teach you how to do math, you learn how to do remedial things required to teach math, but the one thing they don't teach you how to do in great detail is how to build rapport with your students. Sure, you do lessons on rapport building and you do some student teaching. If you are placed under a great educator you may learn some tricks. However, you spend years learning the math and maybe a semester learning to actually teach and relate to children.
How can this be done as a first year teacher?
1.) The quickest way to wow your students on the first day and immediately get them to think of you as a master of your craft is to teach them something they can actually see and maybe even go home and show their parents. I will give you an example at the end of this article.
2.) Understand that it is of ZERO importance to go into the first lesson of the first chapter on the first day of school. You first have to get your student to know, like, and trust you. Most importantly they have to value your words.
3.) Listen to them communicate as they enter the classroom. Listen to them before you teach them anything. Have them explain something to you before you shock them with knowledge. Let them think they know more than they do.
NOW FOR THE LESSON!
To start class before you introduce yourself. Ask them for a volunteer or just pick the one who would be the most entertaining. You can tell this immediately while they are entering the room. Who's got the most to say in the halls. Just watch. You'll be able to tell who you want. Pick the person who is most likely to disrupt the class.
This will do two things. It will start to build a relationship with your class clown and it will also get that student involved before they shut you off and clown around.
Next, have the student stand about ten feet from the wall facing the wall. Then ask the class this one simple question and have them write their answer on a piece of paper. "If [Student's Name] walks half way to the wall each time I ask him/her to walk forward. How many times will I have to ask him/her to walk forward?"
Mathematically the student will never reach the wall, but we all know if you keep walking eventually he or she will run into the wall.
There you have it! The start to a great discussion, a great lesson, and most importantly a great year. Take the rest of the class and get to know them better. Learn their names. Show them you care. Find out if they like math. Use that piece of paper to have them jot down other information you want to know about them. Don't force them just allow them. Collect them at the end and use them to structure your class and lessons.
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