Learning science will be the easy part
Today I started all my classes asking students “What do you expect from class today?” It was interesting to see what they expected and that the younger the student, (I teach 9th-12th graders) the less they were sure about what they expected. We were going to spend the day getting to know each other but I was curious what THEY thought the first day should be. This year I hope I lean more toward following student direction and worry less about planning. My strength is planning and organization so there is some room for exploring. I will choose more interesting questions because I really want to know what they have to say. I hope if I give them enough chances and really listen they will feel their thoughts and their voices matter. Although I did not identify Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs by name I described how their personal lives impacted their schooling so I never can ignore that. Learning how to overcome personal adversity is an important life skill. We can’t learn much science without having thoughts and voices and overcoming when the going gets tough.
We finished with generating ideas on the roles and responsibilities of teachers students and parents/guardians. I have done this activity before in elementary and middle-school and think it might be part of Responsive Classroom (I am level I and II certified). Last year I abandoned the “foundation week(s)” so common in elementary school probably because in my first year teaching high school, I was insecure about being a “serious high school teacher” who spent the first day going over the syllabus then jumps right in. Not so this year. We are laying the foundation now. Tomorrow we discuss being social, communication and social thinking. It might have been called classroom rules and expectations at one point in my classroom. Tomorrow I want to describe why certain behavior gives other students and teachers good thoughts and feelings and how your behavior influences what people think your intentions are.
Right now all is rosy, everyone is happy to be back in school but our foundation week(s) will hopefully be what gets us through when things are not going so well. When we are tired, grouchy and sick of each other we will hopefully remember why we are here. The syllabus will come, grading and units of study will be next but for a few days we are going to remember we are all people first and students and teachers second. If we treat people well, learning science will be the easy part.