Series: First Days of School: It's Always Awkward in the Beginning

Making the Most of Your First Day
Lesson Objective: Build community in the first 10 minutes of class
Grades 9-12, All Subjects, Class Culture

Thought starters

  1. How does Ms. Wessling get to know her students in just ten minutes?
  2. What does Ms. Wessling share about herself? Why do you think she does this?
  3. How could you adapt the wish activity for use in your own classroom?
23 Comments
  1. How does Ms. Wessling get to know her students in just ten minutes? Ms. Wessling makes sure to have three interactions with each student so she remembers their names as well as make a connection. 

2. What does Ms. Wessling share about herself? Why do you think she does this? She shares that she is truly there for them and there is no other place she would rather be than with them. She does this so all her students know she is committed to them and their success in class. 

3. How could you adapt the wish activity for use in your own classroom? I love this activity first off. Second I think that I could make it a time capsule that we could open at the end of the year to see what was accomplished. 

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Ms. Wessling does an amazing job with the first ten minutes of class. She formally introduces herself to each individual student not just the class as a whole. This is important because it shows each student she cares about them individually. Having an activity such as writing a wish down is a great way to start the year and take away some of the first day jitters. This was a great video and a good idea to keep in mind.

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  1. In the first 10 minutes, Ms. Wessling chooses to learn her students names in various ways and to learn a little bit about each on indivdually. She makes sure to pronounce their names properly and make eye contact. 
  2. Ms. Wessling shares that their is not place she would rather be and that it is her 20th year in the education and is a reason to celebrate. I believe she shares this to show her passion and dedication, while tieing it into a fun activity.  
  3. I love the wish activity as it could be a tradition in your room and you could at the end of the year use it as part of end of they year and review their wish and if it came true.
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  1. How does Ms. Wessling get to know her students in just ten minutes?
    1. Ms. Wessling chooses to learn about her students by ensuring that their names are pronounced correctly through attendance, and requesting that they write a wish about themselves in her attempts to have an insight into what their goals may be not only for the class, but for that academic school year in general. She relates to some students by providing positive commentary on handshakes, and ensures that before they leave she has eye contact with them once more as they walk out the door.
  2. What does Ms. Wessling share about herself? Why do you think she does this?
    1. The teacher chooses to share that this is her 20th year in the education system as a teacher. This is a special time for her as some teachers do not make it this far. I believe she shares this information to show her dedication not only to working, but to furthering the education of students. This also shows that she has a vast wealth of knowledge and the students will be able to learn successfully from her.
  3. How could you adapt the wish activity for use in your own classroom?
    1. I would adapt the wish activity to allow students to come back to them at the end of the semester and see if they are on track for their wishes. If they are not, they could think about it over the winter break and come back at the beginning of the next semester and modify their wish as needed.
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  1. How does Ms. Wessling get to know her students in just ten minutes?

She uses different strategies to connect names with face.  She makes sure to greet each scholar at the door which allows her the first line of applying names to face. She has a second chance during the process of taking attendance.  This also helps with the correct pronounciating of their names. Last upon exciting and returning index cards she gets her final chance to place a name with a face and in writting.

 2. What does Ms. Wessling share about herself? Why do you think she does this?

She shares the number of years she's been teaching and that she wouldn't want to be anywhere else.  She does this to let the students know that she is commeted and cares about being  a teacher.  This is not a job but a career that she loves and she's there for their best intrest.

3. How could you adapt the wish activity for use in your own classroom?

Using the index cards and the candles as a wish list for the class expectations as well as a way to get information from the scholars. Understand what their expectations are for  me as a teacher so that I can relate it to future lessons.

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Transcripts

  • Making the Most of Your First Day Transcript

    Sarah: All right everybody. How are you? You doing all right?

    Whenever I start a new class,

    Sarah: All right everybody. How are you? You doing all right?

    Whenever I start a new class, whether that is at the beginning of the year or a new semester, I know that my first ten minutes are really crucial. You're in the right place?

    Speaker 2:      Yeah.

    Sarah: Wonderful. This is a really unique lesson because on the very first day of school I only get to meet my students for ten minutes and I want to use that ten minutes to do three things. I want to connect with them. I want to start to put a name to a face and I want them to start to think forward.

    Ben:    Ben.

    Sarah: Ben, nice to meet you. Ms. Wessling.

    Brianna:         Brianna.

    Sarah: When students are walking into the classroom, my goal is to be close to the door, outside the door, right inside the door, some place where I can look them in the eye, smile, shake their hand and introduce myself.

    Mitchell:         Hi, nice to meet you.

    Sarah: Oh. And you are?

    Mitchell:        Mitchell.

    Sarah:          Mitchell. Ms. Wessling. Nice to meet you. My grandfather would be proud of that handshake. Okay. On a scale of one to five. Five, awesome, amazing and fabulous. One, no. Where you at? You're a zero? We got a seven and a zero. All right. The litmus scale just got huge.

               After that initial connection that I make with students there are some of those normal, predictable housekeeping things that you have to do. Namely, you have to take attendance.

    Josephine? Josie. Awesome. Thanks Josie.

    I think about it as opportunity number two to start to put a name to a face.

    Is it Gianna?

    Gianna: Gianna.

    Sarah: Did I say it right? No. It's Gianna.

    I also use this time to make sure that I'm saying their names correctly. I tell them I want to be sure I get this right. I know how important this is to you because I know how important it is to me. Help me. Percat.

    Sarah: You have to hold me accountable.

    Percat: Will do.

    Sarah: Promise?

                Once I have made that initial connection with students, then I really have just a few minutes to make sure that my students have an experience, and I know that when I plan this first ten minutes, I want to use the time in some way that's gonna be memorable.

                Okay. So, in the two minutes we have, here we go. There are three things that I need you to know about me. Number one, there is no place that I would rather be right now than right here, and I am entirely honest. The second thing you need to know, is that I never feel like when I come to this school, or when I go anywhere to teach, like it's a job. I do it because I want to, and it really feels like that to me. I love it.

                When I am being really honest with students about why I love this work, it's really easy to cross this line into relying on too much emotion. So, I think it's really important to be genuine and to be honest, but not feel like you have to disclose everything in order for it to be effective.

                And the third thing you need to know is that today is a really special day for me, because this is the beginning of my 20th year of teaching, and I thought that, since it felt like a birthday, we should celebrate it like it's a birthday, so I have one thing for you that I need you to do before you leave. I have a little note card here. Because what do you do when you have a birthday cake? What do you put on it? Candles. And then what do you say when you put candles and you light them? Then what do you say? Make a wish. Okay, so this is what I'm going to ask you to do. I'm going to ask you to make a wish.

                As I was preparing that part of the lesson, I wanted students to have more agency in this wish, and I wanted them to think about it more like a goal or a way that they could be this year.

                It could be about this class. It could be about your year, it could be whatever you want, okay? You can see that I've lit the candles for you, but we are not going to blow them out. You know why we're not going to blow them out?

                I always feel like, as soon as you blow out the candles on a birthday cake, you've left that wish to fate, and I don't think you should leave your wish to fate. I think it should be a bit of a commitment. Okay? Put your name on it. If you could put the class period, that would be awesome. On your way out, I will exchange the wish for a birthday cupcake. Does that sound good?

                Okay, here you go. Come grab a card. You're not going to share these with anybody else in the room, but you are going to share them with me. I'm asking you because I really want to know, and because I actually care. Okay?

                As they leave, I got to look at their faces one more time, I got to see their names on the card, so this is three times in that first ten minutes that I'm connecting names to face.

                Help yourself to the cupcakes if you want them. Okay, goodbye.

                My hope is that they leave with a feeling and that feeling they then can start to connect to our space.

    Speaker 8:      Happy birthday.

    Sarah: Thank you.

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Johnston Senior High School
6501 Northwest 62nd Avenue
Johnston IA 50131
Population: 1548

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