Photo by Erin Beers
Originally Posted On: Classroom Management Activities for Middle School (mrsbeers.com)
The first days back to school provide the opportunity to set the stage for the entire school year. Most importantly, I want my students to know how much I value them as individuals, and I work to connect with them from the moment they walk into the school building and head into my classroom. While some teachers love to dive straight into curriculum in those first moments of the brand new school year-I believe that the most essential work we can do as educators is to connect.
“My students don’t need me to learn. They need me to care.”-Liz Galarza
It is critical for students to understand expectations and feel comfortable within our classroom community, so they can focus on learning. If you are looking for a few ways to begin your first days in the classroom with your students-here are some of my favorite classroom tools, management strategies, and activities to implement at the very beginning of the school year.
Featured Product: Digital Meet Our Class for Google Slides
I am always trying to find ways to connect with my students from the first moments they enter into the classroom while engaging my students in thoughtful work. While I am starting the year with students in-person, I always want to be ready in case I need to make any quick tweaks to instruction due to potential quarantines. If COVID has taught me anything, it is that I need to be prepared at a moment’s notice to be virtual. In order to help us all feel like a community of learners, I created this resource to utilize in Google Slides, so whether my students are remote, in-person, or hybrid, we can all get to know more about one another while learning about classroom expectations.
This is the perfect activity to tackle with students the very first day. It gives students time to get acclimated in the classroom, organize supplies, and then share a few tidbits in a comfortable format. When students are finished generating their slide, they can have the chance to present their slide, share one aspect of their slide, or allow it to be read silently by their classmates. Finally, I post our completed slide deck on my Schoology page for students to read through on their own, and generate a classroom playlist based on the “walk-up songs” that students share. I love to play music in the classroom during work times and this is the perfect way to generate a playlist that includes everyone’s taste. (edited, of course)
Featured Product: Back to School Stations for Middle School
The first days can feel overwhelming to my newest students–new grade level, new learning environments, new teachers, new classmates, etc. Just as I don’t want to be talked at all day, I recognize the same is especially true for my students. So-we hit the ground running with a few “acclimation stations.” Due to the potential for both in-person and remote learners, this is the ideal way to help me learn a bit about the types of learners I will be teaching while giving them the opportunity to showcase some traits about themselves.
In addition, I created this resource to help ease my students back into work mode through digital stations. The four stations I included are: Email Etiquette, One Word Memoir, Words of Inspiration, and the Expectation Station.
From these stations I can gauge a bit about my newest learners as far as direction following, work/task completion, work independence or needed support, and effort level. My students arrive to me from very different places, and these station activities allow me to see my students in action and meet my learners where they are from the very first day.
Featured Product: Getting to Know You Chit Chat Cards
Speaking and listening is critical at all grade levels. I need my students to be able to communicate clearly with one another as well as listen to understand. Classroom communities grow more effectively when students recognize the importance of being both thoughtful communicators and listeners. What better time to grow that classroom community, but in the first days of the school year!
I created a resource that allows my students to get to know one another better while they comfortably sit, listen, and chit chat with one another in order to practice thoughtful and purposeful communication within our classroom. I simply print, laminate, hole punch, and combine these chit chat cards with a book ring. I distribute one to each partner set, and allow my students to share their thoughts with a partner or in a small group to truly enhance their connection with one another, focus, and discussion. This is the ideal tool for the first days of school!
Featured Product: Classroom Expectations Display and Discuss
Classroom management is essential as a teacher. My students thrive when they have structure and feel connected within our safe learning environment. I don’t implement rules, instead I share my “Classroom Expectations” with my students, and keep them on display at the front of my classroom. I created these as positive visual reminders for my students. I also made corresponding task cards to give students an opportunity to discuss these expectations in order to begin implementing these expectations from week #1.
If you are looking for the perfect print and go classroom display resource to implement expectations while engaging students in thoughtful discussion, this is the ideal tool.
Best of luck as you navigate this amazing year ahead with your incredible students.