The title of this blog post is meant to be read like the Professor in Futurama:
My good news is that yesterday was my first day of teaching for the semester. I always love the first day of school even though it leaves me with a dry throat and sore feet. I got to meet two classes of TE 401 yesterday. TE 401 is the elementary social studies methods course. I had a great time teaching it last fall, and I seem to have a good group again. Last year I only taught in the morning, so I did have a bit of a rude awakening when I finished the morning class and realized I needed to summon the same energy again for the afternoon class. Hopefully I didn’t short change the 12:40 group, even after a mix-up with room assignments left me a bit rattled.
I approach the first day of class as a community-building day. The students in the elemenary prep program take their methods classes together all year, so they see each other at minimum 6 hours a week until May. Some of them even see each other at their field placements. So, I think it is super important to establish a family atmosphere and get along well together. I try this by setting up a class Social Contract on the first day. We talk about how we want to be treated in the course and what they expect from each other and from me, and then we all sign it to agree. I bring it to class every day so they are reminded of what we determined as valuable for the group and so they don’t forget that we’re all in this together.
I also start every single class with “Good News”. I learned this and the Social Contract from NHA actually, through a classroom management program called Capturing Kids Hearts that focuses on building relationships. I ask the students to share anything good in their lives for the first 2-5 minutes of class. It never fails to make people smile and it puts everybody on a positive note. This year, I’d like to try another aspect of CKH–Affirmations. At the end of class, people can share something positive they’d like to commend the group about what we have done over the 3 hours. I know this all sounds very mushy to do with adults, but I guess that’s the kind of teacher I am. 🙂 I truly think a little positivity goes a long way to ensuring our semester goes well. And at the very least, I’m hoping they see it as a model for how they can develop relationships with their future students.
I was physically drained yesterday, but mentally refreshed. I think it’s going to be a fun semester. Today is also the first college football game of the season. For the last 3 years, Mike & I have purchased MSU football season tickets with some other people from my cohort. This will be the 4th year of attending nearly every home game. Although it definitely monopolizes an entire Saturday, it’s worth it to get a brain break. These guys are not only my academic support during my doctoral program, but what I would like to call my “sanity support”. I can count on them to have fun at a football game, or grab dinner with me at Crunchy’s when I come into town, or give me a place to crash when I need it. And that’s been very important to me through this crazy PhD journey.
It’s not always about the academics…