Back to school time is exciting. Students and teachers are refreshed from break, and the year ahead is full of possibilities. Back to school time is also challenging. Your classroom is full of new names and faces and you know as little about them as they know about you. This offers teachers the once a year (and only once a year) opportunity to engage students right from the start—a chance to make your classroom an interesting and enjoyable place. By creating this sort of positive environment right from the start, you will not have to fight against reluctant and disinterested attitudes for the rest of the year. Going about this engagement must be intentional though—it is not something that just happens, even for the best and most experienced teachers. Let’s talk about three strategies and resources that you can use to help create an engaging back-to-school environment.
Strategy #1: Make It About Them
All too often teachers start out by weighing kids down with classroom procedures, expectations, and a preview of all the hard work to come. And not that these are not important things to cover, but they can be overwhelming to a new batch of students as well as set the tone as distinctly about the class with little or no concern about the students as human beings. Instead of having Day One be all about logistics, set the tone as being student-focused by getting to know them. What are their likes, expectations, personalities, and so forth? One great way to do this is by using the activities and assignments found in my Back-to-School Mega Bundle. This bundle contains a great mix of independent and collaborative activities such as a digital escape room, interviewing their peers activity and a non-fiction reading about school uniforms. Incorporating these activities into the beginning of your year will help you create an engaging back-to-school environment.
Strategy #2: Make A Creative First Assignment
Writing is an integral part of any language arts curriculum. The research paper, the argument essay, the literary response – all these are important types of writing for students to master, but the vast majority of students would not qualify them as fun. Help your students engage with writing right at the start of the year by making your first writing assignment creative writing. This kind of writing allows students to use their imaginations and explore fun topics while making positive associations with writing in your classroom. If you are looking for a fun option, you may what to check out the creative writing assignments found in my Creative Writing Full Year Bundle. This bundle provides seasonal and holiday-themed writing prompts to help create and maintain an engaging classroom environment.
Strategy #3: Allow Play
While the nature of education and the classroom environment demands a certain amount of structure and discipline, encouraging students to have fun can go a long way toward encouraging that initial engagement. A great way to do this is to introduce such items as games and technology to your classroom. While there are many options out for this, digital escape rooms are a great option. Students are often naturally drawn to technology and just mentioning the word “game” often entices the attention of even your most jaded individual. If you are looking to try digital escape rooms with your students check out my Back To School Digital Escape Room 1 or Back To School Digital Escape Room 2. These collaborative activities will help you create an engaging back-to-school environment.
Engaging your students from the start sets you, your students, and your classes up for success and a positive experience throughout the year. Taking the time to establish an engaging back-to-school environment from Day One will pay dividends throughout the year to come.
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