Sitting next to the ocean on vacation with three feverish children has given me a lot of time to think. To relax. To lay puzzles. Read books. Take walks. Recharge. I wish everyone could have a quiet time like this.
In the quiet, the new school year sneaks in. Thoughts and ideas spring forth, the excitement starts to build. There are changes this year once again; only three classes to teach, each 90 minutes long. New focuses brought in. New ideas to try. A sense of urgency that cannot be replicated. I cannot wait.
And so I think about the very first day of school. Of the experience, we will have. Of the things, we will do together. But most importantly, how I want our students to feel after they leave our classroom experience together. How I would love for them to feel at the end of the day. Hopefully excited, hopefully intrigued. Hopefully safe. Hopefully accepted. Hopefully wanting to come back.
Because when we plan for the first day of school, that’s what we should be planning for; how they feel after they leave us.
Not just all of the things we need to do, but the very tone we set. Not just all we have to cover, but the beginnings of the relationships we will create.
And so I plan for a picture book read aloud. I plan for book shopping. I plan for conversation, for the beginning moments of community. I plan for laughter. I plan for fun.
The stuff? The projects? The nuts and bolts of our year together? That will come. But on that very first day, it is not what is most important; our beginning relationship as a community is. And so that’s what we focus on.
Everything else can wait.
How do you want your students to feel after the first day of school?
If you like what you read here, consider reading my newest book, Passionate Readers – The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child. This book focuses on the five keys we can implement into any reading community to strengthen student reading experiences, even within the 45 minute English block. If you are looking for solutions and ideas for how to re-engage all of your students consider reading my very first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students. Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.