Fun stuff basically! So many of my colleagues who teach other subjects spend the first lesson giving out paperwork and telling students how to lay out their ring binders and what the class rules are. I feel that with about 7 hours of that, the students need a break when they get to my class, so here’s some of the things we do:
Getting to Know Each Other
It always surprised me to realise how often after a couple of weeks the students didn’t all know each other’s names in a class. They find their friend group, stick with them and avoid any cross group interaction. I suppose Maths class isn’t the place to yell out and ask a new boy what his name is, but I feel it’s a shame that there isn’t more effort to create a class synergy. So I spend the first few lessons working on the students getting to know everyone in the class with some of these activities-
Line Out – I have the students stand in two lines facing each other. They then have two minutes to present themselves to the person opposite before moving on in speed dating style. Feedback comes by asking the group to tell me everything they know about each person.
Team building activities – such as Marshmallows & Spaghetti are a great way of encouraging students to get to know each other, and also teach them that English class is fun.
Names & Tags – To help students (and me!) get to know each other’s names I ask them to introduce themselves using an appropriate adjective that starts with the same letter to describe something about their personality, “Mad”Max was certainly appropriate, as was chatty Clara!
Write a Letter – not very original I know but I like to give students the chance to tell me what they want me to know about them in a confidential way, and writing a letter to give to me next class seems to work well. Of course they have the chance to send me a film, or twitter, FB or instagram message. one student sent me a film of her miming her day – I got to know an awful lot about her.
Getting to Know the Lesson
By doing loads of oral activities and fun stuff I spend the first few lessons showing students that it’s great to make mistakes and take risks in class, that they can ask questions and especially ask each other – I’m all for an autonomous learning and encourage 3 before me in class.
Textbook Quiz – Ask a bunch of questions about the book “What is Julie’s dog called?” “Find a picture of a London moment – have you ever been?” to encourage students to appropriate their book – and find the dictionary and grammar sections before the end of the year!
Dear Newbie – rather than spend time explaining what I want from class and how we’ll work I ask the students to spend the last lesson of the year writing a letter to future students, I then give these out at the start of the year. They can be quite revealing ” Beware Mrs H if England have lost the rugby”, “if you mention star wars you can get her to talk for hours and she’ll forget about homework” are a couple of my favourite snippets because, yes of course I read them through before handing them out.
Future Me – You are thirty years old, write a letter to your wonderful old English teacher telling her what you’ve been up to for the last 15 years and how you use English in your life.
Get to Know the Teacher
Although they’ve probably already heard more than enough through the jungle drums I always give students a chance to get to know me at the start of the year.
Numbers on Board – I write some numbers on board and students have to guess what they apply to, my age, number of kids, marathons run, average number of detentions given out in a week, kilos of chocolate I expect for christmas, etc. I let them guess a few in pairs before they call out what they think they refer to.
Hot Spot – I use the hot spot a lot through the year when students take on the character of someone from a book or a celebrity and answer questions in that style, it’s a great way of encouraging question practice and class interaction. Start of year hot spot is pretty basic, I sit in a chair at the front and students can ask me what they like – this can become a discussion on appropriacy and social barriers in class as often one student will go to far, but that’a a good way to remind students where the limits are. I’ve noticed that because we chat about life etc. some students think they can talk to me in a way they would never dream of addressing another teacher, so this can be a friendly, but firm way of setting the barriers in my class.
And finally on my first day back, I be collapsing in a heap on the sofa as soon as I make it through the door!
What about you? What have you got lined up?