Every year we anticipate the first day of school with a healthy mix of nerves and excitement. Our students’ first impressions of us give shape to our classroom culture—and that is never far from our minds. We want to help you start the new academic year off on the right foot, so we’re offering three steps you can take to help create a positive classroom culture right away.
Learn your students’ names immediately
We all learn our students’ names—eventually. But the sooner you learn them the better. You may have your own trick to remembering, but we’re going to share two of our own:
If you want something tangible to help you learn names, snap a quick photo of each student with a Polaroid camera. Now hand out the developing picture (and a Sharpie) and ask each student to write his/her name at the bottom. When you get home that night, flip through the photos like flashcards. You’ll have their names down in no time.
If you’d rather skip the Polaroid, try an app called Attendance2 and you’ll receive similar results. For $4.99 you get not only a digital attendance log, but a built-in flashcard function that allows you to photograph each student and quiz yourself.
Start studying pop-culture now
Our students are pop-culture connoisseurs. They know the latest celebrity gossip; they know which hip hop artists are passé and which aren’t; they’ll have an opinion about the name of Kim and Kanye’s baby; they know the hottest video games and fashion trends. Do you though?
You’ll have plenty of time to expose students to your own collection of music, books and films, but allow yourself to learn from them too. Surprise your students by incorporating elements of pop culture into your lessons. Use YouTube videos and pop-culture analogies to help you illustrate ideas. Your students will love it.
Make your introduction memorable
You have all kinds of free technology resources at your fingertips. Why not use them to shake up that run-of-the-mill introduction you give every year? Here’s one idea:
Introduce yourself with Voki, a free service that allows users to create animated audio avatars that speak. First you’ll need to create your own personalized, speaking avatar. Choose from a variety of characters (some human, some not) and customize the mouth, eyes, make-up, skin color and hair. After that, you’ll need to give your avatar a voice: upload a text document, call via phone or use a microphone and then publish it to any site that accepts html. Now you’re ready to share it with your new students.