- What do you currently do for your first three days of school?
In my first three days of school I have changed my philosophy many times since I started teaching and have refined what I do the past few years into some very meaningful activities. My sequence is varied depending on the class I am teaching. On day one I do an inquiry activity with my classes. I started this after participating in the NATAA a couple years ago and putting inquiry at the forefront of my teaching. I teach an Intro to Ag class with the CASE curriculum and I do the first activity with them that is prescribed in the curriculum about agriculture in different time periods and resources. I continue on with a second day in that activity in that class and on the third day we discuss the syllabus and course objectives. In my upper level courses I have my own inquiry activities on day one including a black box activity that students problem solve, a chewing gum activity, and others depending on the class. Students have to work together to problem solve in the activity. On the second day - in animal science I do the world map activity so that students see a big picture of why the class is important. I do a biodiversity activity in natural resource class for students to look at the big picture of the subject area importance. Day 3 is reserved for syllabus, tour of the facility, safety, and class objectives. In leadership class we only meet every other day so on day one we do team building and name games. On day two (really day 3) we talk about the syllabus and go from there. An activity I have completed recently - but not last year, was having students answer a question on day one - what is ___________(insert course title here) and then made a word cloud of all their answers and shared that with them on the second day.
2. How can you transform your classroom in the first three days to maximize student engagement and build a strong learning communities?
I think that I keep my students very engaged on the first three days - although I think that the E in pirate could be ramped up a bit - I could include more enthusiasm at times. I believe the students understand the issues are important but I am not sure I have their total buy in. I also think I encourage them to learn in my current system. As for communities - I believe that I could build up that area - my leadership classes I do push for a community atmosphere - but not as much in my other areas.
3. What do your three days look like?
I would like to find a few ways to modify my first three days to make it more exciting for students so that they buy in and are sold on their responsibility for their learning. I would like students to get to know each other better and be able to feel like they are in a no judgement, high learning zone. I also think this has to last past the first 3 days. It is easy for me now to present the first three days like I do - but I feel like that slowly gets back to a slower pace and into a routine where those things are not happening all the time. I might bring in more of my own passions to those first few days and choose to include them more throughout the year. I also would like to continue to and use more of current and relevant issues to motivate and show kids the importance of learning about agriculture.