Another First Day

I've had a lot of first days of school, so many that I've lost count. The first day of school usually (but not always) looks like this:

  • Put on a new item of clothing (today, it was a dress I bought a month or so ago). My mom even asked me the other day if I'd gone school clothes shopping and was a bit surprised when I said no. She told me to go shopping . . . but I don't have the money right now.
  • Get to my classes early. I still worry that I'll have a hard time finding the right classrooms.
  • Be excited to see former students. I'm almost always glad when a student decides to take another class from me. Today, I also ran into former students as I walked around campus. I don't always remember the names, but I almost always remember their faces. And seeing them brings fond memories of good discussions in classes past.
  • Be excited to meet new-to-me students. I love meeting people, and on the first day of class, I get a sense of how the rest of the semester is going to go. Today, my students in Literacy Studies were smart, engaged, and made me laugh. I can tell it's going to be another good class.
  • Memorize the name of every student in my class and find out a little bit about their lives. By the end of both classes, I had every name down. I knew who liked to travel and which students had kids. I know that by Thursday, I'll forget a few of the names, but I'm almost superstitious about this now. I feel like I *have* to memorize the names on day one or I'll never remember them. And I believe that it's really important for teachers to recognize their students' humanity--by acknowledging that they have names (!) and lives outside of school.
  • Do something to introduce the ideas that will be central to the class. Today, in Literacy Studies, I asked my students to share what they remembered about their literacy learning. I also tried to give an introduction to the discipline of literacy--and I talked a little about why I'd made certain curricular decisions. I don't know whether students remember much about the first day of class, but it feels right to me to contextualize the class right away.
  • Try something new (yeah, I know, that's my mantra right now). In my 175T: Teacher Lecture Series today, we worked on planning the syllabus together. I asked them what kinds of things they wanted to address in class, and it was really helpful to get their ideas. I've already emailed a bunch of teachers to see if they'll be guest speakers in my class. Are any of you teacher-readers willing to drop by, as well?
  • Respect the knowledge that my students bring to the class. Also in 175T, one of my students is currently teaching at a local community college. He knows someone who would be a great speaker on one of the topics my students would like to address--I was more than happy to ask him to try to arrange with that person to visit my class.
  • End the class abruptly. Now, this isn't something I try to do, it's just something that seems to happen. I map out a lot of what I want to talk about, but I always fail to map out an ending. Ah, well. I guess it's good for students to get a taste of what the semester will be like. The End. (See? That's what my classes are like.)

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