Establishing a Cohesive Classroom
Creating classroom routines and norms at the beginning of the year helps students to create the kind of classroom culture that helps them to become successful.
So many teachers hate those first three or four days of school, especially if, like my school, student schedules change so that some kids disappear while new kids are added to your roster. This means that you can't actually start teaching the content of your subject until things settle down. Instead of looking at those first few days as painful days filled with fluff, I challenge you to use that time to build a classroom community.
Tips to creating a Cohesive Classroom
A. Create clear expectations about attendance, homework, assessments and projects. (Having a classroom contract is a great way to do this.)
B. Establish routines and norms. Let students know what to do when they first enter the room and be consistent in the flow of activities in the classroom.
C. Have a clear lesson plan structure that transitions smoothly from one activity to the next (even when doing your icebreakers). Structure your lessons for the first few days in the same way that your lessons will flow once you begin teaching content.
Do this great getting to know you activity (takes two days):
The Me You See. The Me I Want to Be
This activity is a take on getting them to talk about themselves with each other, to share experiences, and to think about their hopes. If your students don't have access to computers and Google Slides, all you need is a printer (color preferably), construction paper or poster board and glue.
On one slide or side of the paper, ask students to place images of how they think people see them. Then describe how those images represent what people see.
On the other slide or side of the paper, ask them to place images of the people the aspire to become and explain those images and aspirations.
This activity can best be done in Google Slides or some other platform that allows them to capture images from the interned and share with the class. As they work, organize them into small groups to share resources (if you're using paper) and to bounce ideas off of each other. This allows them to talk out their ideas in a smaller setting before taking it to the larger class.
Once the assignment has been completed, have each student go up and share with the class. Each student should get 100% as a way to start the year off right and boost their confidence.