The First Week Back!

There are many articles on the blogs at the moment talking about the up-coming return to school. Some of them have advice on how you manage behaviour (Smart Classroom Management ‘How to Handle Mis-Behaviour in  the first Two Weeks’), what the routines should be. Some of them have lists of high hopes for the year.(Nick Overton’s ‘New Term’)
Those that have really caught my interest are those that look at those very first impressions both of the children and parents. It seems that what happens in those first few hours in the classroom can set the tone not only for the term but for the year.
As a teacher, I had never thought about the impression that the pupils were getting. I was more concerned about establishing myself, my expectations, my routines. As a headteacher, I hoped that the teachers would be able to create an atmosphere for learning but if I’m honest that was often linked to rules and regulations.
As a student teacher, I can remember being told not to smile until half term! ‘Don’t let them see you as human’ was the advice. Now I’m well aware that things have (thank goodness) moved on. We have realised that school should not be that institution where children march to the teacher’s drum. However, how much consideration is given to how the children feel? In John Spencer’s post ‘Dad, we spent the first week’, his son is clearly at school because he had a test. In Angela Maiers piece ‘First Day at School’, nothing much seemed to happen in her children’s secondary classroom nor were they expecting much.Malcolm Bellamy ponders on what happens to change those first halcyon days of excitement and keenness in his ‘Where Does the Excitement Go?’.
Many schools use the first days of a new term and especially a new year to sort out all the admin things. Is this a good use of time for those ‘blank pieces of paper’? That’s what children are as they come into a new classroom after a long holiday. Should schools focus on establishing inspiration and a love of learning in those few days so that the children get the bug and want more?

What do you do in the first week? Do you think about how it feels to be a child / student in your class?

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