I was going to be really math-y and have a Day 0 post yesterday but I just didn’t have the time.

Today was my first day teaching high school after student teaching in 2012 and then working as an adjunct and a graduate assistant.

Yesterday evening my copy of the Reluctant Disciplinarian by Gary Rubinstein came in the mail. I read it in one sitting. It was a great book, but of course, nothing is going to make me good at classroom management except classroom management. I think I did okay today. One of the big things I took away from the book is that the first day will be easier than the rest of the year. I don’t know if I set exactly the tone I wanted on the first day, but we will see.

I started with a ice breaker I got from Dan Meyer, the Personality Coordinates activity. It went over alright, but some students struggled with only putting on label on an axis instead of making a grid where each dot was a different category.

Since I am teaching Foundations Of Algebra, we started reviewing pre-Algebra topics. We worked with adding and subtracting signed integers, first individually and then in groups and as a whole class. I emphasized that this was meant to jog student memory and help get them ready for the school year.

After we had some warm up, I asked them to write their answers to two questions:

What is mathematics?

What does it mean to be “good” at mathematics?

Then we discussed their answers. I got some great ones. (Really, I mean that.)

- Boring
- Confusing
- Scary
- Hard
- Pain In The Butt
- Numbers
- Equations
- With you your whole life

These are the kinds of answers I was hoping for. I think I ended up talking too much about these and not letting the students talk, but I wanted to emphasize that sometimes math had been those things for me too, and how to respond and push past that.

We finished the day by continuing to work on operations with signed integers.

I wasn’t happy with my lesson plan’s structure, but it got slightly better as I taught the course again each time.

Since I’m going for a daily 180-style blog here, I don’t think these posts are going to be nearly as long or re-done and re-done but just a quick write.

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I really like your structure of doing both intro activities and doing math on day one — both are important and send a message around what math class is about. I often get stuck in the paradigm of “this is math class so we’re gonna do math” the first day and not take time to acknowledge that we’re a group of humans who are going to spend a lot of time together for a year and should get to know each other.

Thanks!

I was torn between advice from teacher’s who said: “Set the tone, lay down the law. First day” and others’ who said to make sure that students wanted to be there and learn from me. I found value in both and hope I found a good medium.