Sunday, July 9, 2017

Ditch the Boring First Day...Shake It Up a Bit!


 So, I’ll just be honest…as a student, I hated the first day of school. Especially in high school. I could predict what the day would be like, and I honestly dreaded it to no end. Visit every class, barely meet your new teacher, and then get a syllabus to go over. Same.thing.every.year. It was in my mind…pointless. I thought to myself, “Tell me your name, give me the syllabus, don’t insult my intelligence by reading it to me, and let’s move on.”

I understand that you want to “set these standards” but is there any other way we can do it?

I vowed to myself that when I became a teacher that my first day for my students would rock. I wanted my class to be their favorite (or at leas their least dreaded). I wanted that when students went home & told about their day…that maybe, just maybe, there was a little excitement for the next day in Spanish class. I knew that by "liking the class, the language had a chance" 




So today I want to share some secrets that set my class apart from other typical classes on the FIRST DAY! 

SIDE NOTE: Many of these activities CAN BE adjusted FOR ANY subject & any level. You just have to customize the task to your own subject & teaching! 



1.      1. Music…when they walk in, they might just walk in moving their hips.
For some classes, I will show a music video that compliments a Spanish song and displays culture. The kids can tell from the music and video that the energy will be high, and the class is going to be very different. 





2. Make them an honorary Latino for the rest of the year. I don't put my kids in alphabetical seating and I don't do rows. Instead, they are placed in a Spanish speaking country group where they will be competing against OTHER countries. They win prizes, homework exemptions, and even food. I love hearing the kids say on the first day, "What are you? What country are you in?" Plus, if they didn't know any countries that spoke Spanish, they learned six on the first day. 

Note: what's even awesome is when OTHER teachers ask you about this "country thing" because they overhear kids in their classes ask what country other students are in. 

I use little seat flag tags on the desk that group the countries together. The kids on the first day get exposure to the flag, the country name, the word "soy", and the nationalities all IN SPANISH. 




Little tip: I stand at my classroom door and tell every student that enters which country they are in. I have always done this idea because it allows me to talk to every individual student on the first day. I can smile and introduce myself. Plus, making that first impression has always played in my favor. 

3. Close the door & give a quick intro. This is one of my favorite parts because this will be the FIRST time ever they get full exposure to the Spanish language. Before I even do attendance, I give a quick little three minute intro of my class (and myself), but I use half Spanish and half English. I only speak Spanish that is complete cognates and I speak very clearly & slow. I love it because the kids will respond "I think I totally understood what you said" or "I followed you the whole time." I try to be very warm and embracing during this little intro. I am amazed at what personalities I will see come out within the first five minutes of the class. 

4. Spanish word attendance. This activity is soooo much fun & can be played anytime, but you AND YOUR STUDENTS will love it on the first day. Basically, you're going to call out your students names for attendance. You'll teach them to say "hi, here" (In Spanish: hola, aquí) but then they must say ONE Spanish Word that they know (or whatever language you teach). It can be a food, animal, country, etc. It's so much fun to hear the kids spill out a Mexican restaurant menu. I promise there will be laughs by the end of attendance, and look at how much Spanish you're already exposing to the kids. 

5. Time to show the "About the Class & About the Teacher PPT" This is where you'll settle some Spanish nerves and give a great snapshot of your class. This PPT answers any dire questions, but more than anything: it shows the kids WHY, JUST WHY learning a language is so important. I even make a slide of jobs they can obtain with being bilingual. Hey, money talks! 



The 2nd half of the PPT is an About Me section. This is where I am going to be vulnerable and connect with my kids. I am going to tell them about my childhood, where I went to school, why I became a teacher, etc. This is where the students will connect. This is where they will understand why you are doing what you're doing. 

6. After the PPT, time to go over the Syllabus....but...

with memes! That's right. It's time to explain the expectations of your class but for each section, the students will see funny memes. This makes the most boring part of the class a little less painless, and who doesn't love a good Will Farrell meme. 



7. One more PPT (and it's a biggie)...Class Procedures. Okay, I'm going to vent/nag/whatever...I hear and talk to so many teachers who complain a few weeks into school about how their classes have gotten chaotic & they have lost control. My first question: did you teach class procedures? They'll often say, "Yeah, we went over the rules." Noooo...did you go over class PROCEDURES? There is a huge difference. No cursing in class is a rule. Telling the kids how you want them to turn in their HW, what to do after completing class work, and what to do the last 5 minutes of class...are Procedures. You MUST teach them if you want structure. I always show this PPT! I will tell the kids I love to have a good time (if we're learning) BUT if I think we're sacrificing learning FOR a good time, you will see a different person. 



Side note: Teaching the Procedures is important, but following through is probably even more important. Basically: Don't get soft. Stick to your procedure game plan. 

If time: Group Introduction...I will teach the kids how to say "My name is...I am from...I like..." and have them share with their group. We often don't get to this, but I always keep it in my back-pocket. 

That's it, folks. That is my first day. It looks a little different from the traditional first day but honestly, it excites me as a teacher so I know it must be exciting to be setting in a student desk! 

If you would like to purchase of any of the products I use on the first day, see below. All products are editable and can be customized for your own class: 


 Seat Flag Tags for Country Groups: 
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Spanish-Country-Desk-Flag-Tags-3187622

All About the Class & Teacher PPT: 
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/All-About-Spanish-1-About-Teacher-PPT-can-be-used-for-other-languages-3244663

Syllabus & Class Behavior Contract: 
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Foreign-Language-Syllabus-Behavioral-Contract-3247428

Syllabus Memes PPT: 
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/PPT-Memes-for-Spanish-Syllabus-Behavior-Contract-3247587

Class Procedures PPT: 
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Procedures-of-the-Class-MIDDLE-OR-HIGH-SCHOOL-295940



Thanks, God Bless, and Happy Teaching! 
Brittany B. 



2 comments:

  1. I love your idea about placing students in countries. Great way to learn how to say where someone is from. Spanish word attendance is a good idea too! I think I may use it. Thanks for sharing!

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