The first days and weeks back at school can be both exciting and overwhelming for teachers. You begin a new school year with a new class of students filled with different academic levels, learning styles, and interests. As you venture into a new school year, the process of teaching expectations and rules and creating a community in your classroom begins all over again.
It is important within the first week of school to try and create personal connections with each of your students. Students who have a personal connection with their teacher show higher levels of academic achievement. The best way to create bonds with your students is to have activities built into the first few days that give the students the opportunity to get to know you as their teacher and as a person, and provide the opportunity to get to know them as students and as kids outside of school.
As a first-grade teacher, I am constantly trying to think of new ways to get to know my students, ease any first-day jitters, and create a learning environment with high expectations from the moment the students walk through the door. While each group of students will be different, there are some great activities you can implement in your classroom year after year. Here are three that are sure to be a success!
1. Create a Growth Mindset
A growth mindset is the idea that our brains can develop when persevering through difficult tasks. Students learn in the first days of school to celebrate mistakes because science has shown that mistakes help our brains grow. Students also are given growth mindset phrases that can be used when something is challenging for them. Instead of saying “I can’t do this” or “this is too hard,” students use phrases such as “I can’t do this yet!” or “with practice, I will get better.” Creating a classroom community that encourages a strong growth mindset is key to ensuring that students believe that they can achieve at high levels.
I've had success using apps to communicate with parents. Right now, I use Class Dojo to stay in contact with parents and promote positive behaviors. You can also show your kids growth mindset videos and distribute related classroom resources during the first week or two of school.
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