Wit & Wisdom

Game Changers & Tales of Triumph and Woe

10 Things to Do for the First Day of School

CJ Westerberg, March 12, 2013 12:47 PM


Editor's Note:
With school starting soon, I thought this post was a thoughtful reminder for educators, students and parents whether we are going through the motions of "business as usual" or re-assessing and re-iterating what to expect or what we do.
Australian Edna Sackson describes herself as "a teacher, a learner, an inquirer . . .  and now a blogger."  She can be found at What Ed Said,
and works in an International Baccalaureate PYP school in Melbourne, Australia.  I found her posts particularly sharp and insightful -  hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Her simplicity of thought for such complex topics, the transformative journey of her teaching and the humility expressed in this post below is thought-provoking to say the least. 
Previously published in TDR as "10 Ways to Think Differently about Teaching and Learning,"  it is a classic.    -  C.J. Westerberg

" . . . I realise how much teaching and learning have changed . . .
and how much I have changed."
-Edna Sackson

10 things to do on the first day of school . . . .

by Edna Sackson

A new school year is about to begin in Australia. It'll be the first time in nearly 30 years that I don't have a class to teach and it's not an easy adjustment!   For as long as I can remember, I have started the year by planning the first day for my new classes. Reflecting on all those new beginnings, I realise how much teaching and learning have changed . . . and how much I have changed.

What needs to happen on "Day 1?"

I used to think . . .

  1. Explain your expectations.
  2. Establish rules.
  3. Know everyone's names.
  4. Arrange seats to minimalise talking.
  5. Organise books.
  6. Talk about homework.
  7. Tell them what they'll be learning.
  8. Make sure they listen.
  9. Get students working right away
  10. Show a firm hand.

Now I think . . .

  1. Ask about their expectations.
  2. Create an essential agreement.
  3. Know everyone's story.
  4. Arrange seats to encourage collaboration.
  5. Demonstrate that you value thinking.
  6. Talk about learning.
  7. Ensure they know that they own their learning.
  8. Make sure you listen.
  9. Show you're a part of the learning community.
  10. Laugh . . .

Published The Daily Riff February 7, 2011
Related posts The Daily Riff:
10 ways to build resilience with your students

  • Thanks for the complimentary words, for sharing my posts...and for getting it! I hope everyone does :-)


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It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.
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