"Kids can tell the different between teachers who only seem to care about them when they are sitting in the classroom, and those who see past the 'student' to the unique person who resides inside."
One of my favorite things about Dave's book is that he just doesn't tell you what teaching like a pirate means, he shows what it looks like in his class. He spends a majority of the chapter walking you through his first three days of class because "nothing is more important to me than creating the proper atmosphere right from the start. No content standard matters to me until I have established the safe, supportive, and positive classroom environment I need to successfully teach my students."
This chapter really made me think about what I do to show my students that care about them as individuals. As an instructional coach, one of the points I stress every year is to build rapport with your students. This chapter had me thinking, "Am I modeling this with the students I teach?"
This year I worked with the third grade students extensively. I began the year with a few activities that helped me learn more about my students. Two of my favorites involved fake iPads and skittles. I wanted to know what my students liked to do, what their personalities were like, and how they worked in groups.
Each student was given this iPad image with nine blank squares (each square representing an app). I modeled creating my own iPad apps that showcased some of the things I liked to do, my favorite television shows, and books I liked to read. Then each student created their own. After everyone was finished, I had a few volunteers share one or two of their apps. As they were working, I walked around and had a quiet conversation with each person having them describe at least on the apps they were creating. I found this great activity in Leanne Baur's Big 3-6 Back to School Activity pack.
The skittles activity came from Fourth and Ten's Back to School FUN activities. Each student was given a fun size packet of skittles and then I put them into groups. Each group received the Skittles Sharing pages. Students had to choose three skittles randomly from the bag and then share based on the matching topic. I modeled this for students before they did it, so they could learn a bit about myself as well. As students were sharing with each other, I walked around listening to the conversations taking notes so I would have leads later for the content I would teach. I sat with each group to listen and join in the conversation.
We did other activities that first week of school. However, my students said these were their two favorite and they really helped set up the tone for the class for the rest of the year.
Now it is your turn. What do you do to establish a safe, supportive, and positive classroom environment during the first week of school? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. If you have a blog, don't forget to link up at Third Grade Tidbits or Rowdy in First Grade.