Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Those Crucial First Minutes

I have always wanted my students to know I value every second of our time together. When they understand this, the issue of tardies usually disappears because they know they have to get to my class on time because I am starting and I will mark them tardy for missing something good. While this is certainly a nice benefit, the real reason I want them to know how much I value classtime is because I want THEM to value every minute we have together for learning and sharing. Just as writing alongside my students makes them care more about their own writing, caring about my time with them can make them care more. This is why lesson planning is so important -- I am showing my students that I will work just as hard as I am asking them to work, and we will have fun doing it together.

Yet in spite of this overriding goal, I struggle with how to start class right off without seeming abrupt. I want to say hello and how are you to my students -- I haven't seen many of them since the day before. But transitioning to the lesson can be stilted. I have a new idea for this coming year. Occasionally, I am going to play short YouTube vidoes as they are entering class. They do not have to settle and listen right away, but as the start of class approaches, I hope they start to pay attention. We may or may not discuss the video -- we'll see how it goes. What I hope to achieve is a small moment of music or video or art that connects to that day's lesson -- a moment when things go beyond the books in our hands. I have found so far this video for our first discussion day of East of Eden, this video for our work with Candide, and this video as we are starting Brave New World. The Steinbeck song is catchy enough that I may have to buy the CD!


  1. Kids love music...any kind...even the "oldies"!

    I like your idea of utilizing YouTube...I may "borrow" this idea!


  2. What a great idea! My situation is fairly different since I am a kindergarten teacher but this is still an idea I would love to implement. First thing in the morning is a rather difficult time for the students (and the teacher!) to get organized. I tend to leave morning work on their tables, but as I'm sure you can imagine, kindergarteners need a lot of hand holding. This would be a great way to get the students to get focused without a lot of directions and questions! Thanks so much :)

  3. Writing right: Please do! I hope it works well for both of us this year.

  4. cristin: This sounds really great -I know high schoolers love things they used to get when they were so young - they think sometimes things have just gotten too serious. So I love that this idea is one you think will work for your students too - that means mine will love it.

  5. Been using your idea: