The First 5 Days of Learning in 2020
From the TMC Team
The First Days of School by Harry Wong was a school staple. You didn’t leave college without it. I still remember my first day teaching. I was set and ready to go. I had name tags, lesson plans and a big smile on my face as I greeted my students. I was a nervous wreck, but I followed every tip Harry Wong suggested. The students knew the rules and expectations. We were off to a great start. But I must admit something was missing. The most important ingredient to have a successful year. I just couldn’t put my finger on it.
As I’m faced with the challenge of a virtual first day, I feel more like that first year teacher. There is no road map or Harry Wong chapter on remote learning. I realize as teachers we are challenged to build a classroom without the bricks and mortar we are all used to. The name tags are replaced by virtual logins. There is the obstacle of building relationships and reaching learners across a computer screen. During these times, we are the innovators who are bridging the gap.
I feel like that first year teacher, but I have to remind myself of the lessons I’ve learned and how it relates to the virtual world. When I started working in Fairfax County, the district focused on the social, emotional, and academic curriculum. All three were equally important and fundamental building blocks. These experiences changed my journey as an educator.
I quickly learned that I had to build solid relationships. I already knew that the students needed a good environment to thrive but that also meant making sure the students were comfortable and felt safe with me and their classmates. I learned that building a classroom community was my top priority. I wanted my students to feel like a family. When they walked in our classroom it was an extension of their home. I know now it’s my responsibility to build that online by having a plan to engage students socially, emotionally and academically.
Now, I still believed that Harry Wong was onto something when he wrote about teaching. He inspired me to write my own book “The Teachers Monster Club.” The book may have been published before today’s pandemic but the plans can be incorporated virtually to create a virtual home room where students can grow.
The book is based on what the first day of school looks like in my classroom. I greet at the door, have a morning meeting, and always have a team building activity.
I must admit I threw the name tag idea out the window a few years ago for something better that works for me. But this year I don’t think name tags will really be an issue or arranging classroom seating patterns to eliminate problems.
As we embark on this new way of learning remember that in order to have a great year those first days of school count. The social, emotional and academic curriculum have to be incorporated. All three are vital for student success.
As educators, we are in this together. Check out our sample schedule below. It can help you set up your school year for success. Good Luck and know that The Teacher Monster Club is here as a resource for us to build relationships as teachers and bridge gaps during these challenging times.