8/25/18: The First Day of School

I always get extremely nervous for the first day of school. First impressions are important and you only get one shot. With all things considered, I think it went pretty well! Here’s what I did in each 50 minute period:

Student Autobiographies

Before school even starts, I send my students an email with a link to a Google Slides where they can start their student autobiography if they want to. I do this before school starts because I know that some students have some free time on their hands (and this only takes 5-10 minutes) and I know that students are often curious to see who else is in the class.

Happy New Year!

I get to class a little early so I can shake everyone’s hand and introduce myself while trying to learn names. I saw a tweet about someone saying “Happy New Year” on the first day of school so I decided to take it and exaggerate it. I went to Target to buy party hats and party horns so we can count down to the start of the period. At least from my end, it seemed like the students enjoyed it, so it wasn’t that much of a fail! Video can be found here:


After that, I did the cups challenge that was inspired by Martin Joyce (look here for what he did: https://mrjoyce180.wordpress.com/2018/08/03/first-week-plans/). I didn’t have as many cups as he did so I created my own formations that students had to make. I think the students liked it too. Rather than looking at the cups, I really liked looking at the students’ faces. Pure concentration and/or fear that the cups would fall over. The reason I chose this activity is because students collaborate a lot in this class and I thought this would be a good activity that promotes team-building.

20 Words/Phrases

Lastly, I ask my students to think of 20 words/phrases associated with a typical K-12 math class. Not content like Pythagorean Theorem or Number Line, but words/phrases associated with their homework, tests, class structure, their math teachers, etc. This is what one class came up with:

After that, I ask them if this is what they want their math class to look like. After their response, I tell them to think of what you would eliminate and what you would exchange it for until we got this:

I chose to do these activities on the first day because I believe that we need to talk about mindset and understand the importance of collaboration before doing any math. In addition to these activities, I tell my students that we are all on the same team. I think that that is important to state explicitly. I tell them that I want to make them the best math teacher they can be, so please be transparent with me if you are struggling, or if you want me to slow down, etc.

Overall, I think the first couple days went well for me and I am really excited to see my group of 180+ students grow in their mathematical ability.

Thanks for reading.

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