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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Community Building Activity: Hands On

Tomorrow is the first day of school with my 2015-2016 students. I will have 118 (at last count) new bodies in my classroom, some of whom I know a bit better than others. Some I do not know at all, as we have had many students transfer in from other junior highs, districts, cities, and states. 

With so much newness, it is important for everyone to get to know one another. It is my responsibility to build a healthy and safe classroom community. Our first assignment is going to be an introductory activity called Hands On, another  steal from the AVID Culturally Relevant Training I attended this summer (see Poker Time seating/grouping strategy)

We will be hanging the hands in the hallway to show everyone that we are going to work together. When this year's parents come in Thursday night to meet the teachers, I want them to see that we have been building a community from day one. I am a big preacher about my classroom being accepting of all people, regardless of any type of differences, and the Hands On activity is just one way to begin expressing that. 

In addition, my students will be reading, writing, listening, and speaking with this lesson, all of which are essential components of both English language arts and English language learner instruction. 

There is another, more secret reason that I am using this as my first day lesson. How many of you are still preaching procedures, expectations, rules, consequences, and the like on day one? How does your mouth and throat feel by the end of the day? It took me ten years to realize that coming home with a sore throat was not the way to start my school year, so I stopped that a few years ago. The kids will listen to me a little bit, but for the most part, I get to walk around, monitor, listen, and smile (yes, I smile before December). 

How will you build a safe and welcoming classroom environment?

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