The first day of school-in an Immersion Classroom
First day is a big deal！First day is always a long and a physically emotionally draining day .
Students are afraid of the unknown. Teachers are nervous and worried about all the things that might go wrong. However, no matter how nervous and how scared a teacher is, do not show it. A prepared teacher can turn any opportunity into a teaching moment.
Even a well-prepared teacher is not fear free. Can you imagine how scared one must be if they are not prepared?
Take a look at the classroom before the school starts. Picture how the students come in, work, learn, study, and interact with each other in this classroom. Have you thought about the furniture arrangement? Have you thought about the flow when students need to move around in the classroom? Desks, chairs, mailboxes, cubbies (or lockers), instruction areas, and hooks for coats and backpacks. There are more. Walk into your classroom pretend you were your student, where to hand backpack and coat. How do you find your desk? Is there a name-tag on the desk? Or nametags will come later based on personal preference?
Students’ first day is the product of teachers’ many sleepless nights, hardworking days and preparations. I had no ideas how to start the first day. The trainings I attended were all about no English and content based curriculum. I wish to share my trials and errors experience here so new teachers can avoid the same mistakes. When you put yourself in your students’ shoes you may discover many useful tricks. Since our students are all different and unique hence the methods should be vary.
Students put their backpacks away, find their desks, and get their pencil boxes out. Students can do these as long as they have attended kindergarten. However, think about how can students find their desks and know where to put their backpacks? This is what I have learned from my mistakes. I assumed the order would fall naturally but no, plans and arrangement need to be there.
Where do backpacks go? My first year teaching Chinese Immersion had a very interesting experience. Hooks for backpack weren’t ready in my classroom. I had to lead the students to walk by other classrooms to the hooks located in the hallway by the office, and I could only speak Chinese to these American kids. It was unforgettable.
Locker or hooks with labels or without labels? If the decision is not to label the hooks/lockers, how do you let students understand your intention? Will it interfere with the students who try to choose lunch or start morning self-start?
Are there nametags on students’ desks so they can find their desks easily? Nametag is a great tool. Have you thought more about it? I am planning to cover all about this topic later.
Many schools want students to choose lunch first thing in the morning. How do you make this chore easy to understand and don’t take up too much time? I use food’s photos to let them pick. First day, I will pick up their numbers and ask them one by one about their lunch choices. Then put the numbered magnet to the correct lunch choice. This routine will take weeks of practice to let the students get used to it.
I love using numbers. Numbers on magnets, numbers on mailboxes, and numbers on pops. It takes time to have everyone remember their own numbers but once it’s memorized, they won’t forget. Also, you don’t need to make new sets of names every year.
We don’t have a lot of time to teach in half day so I am always trying to find easier ways to do things to save time and save trouble.