Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Building Anticipation Before 1st Day of School

The first day of school is coming up fast, and even though I have one more month left, I am already "preparing the soil" by building anticipation for my classroom in my students' minds.  Before they ever step into my classroom, I want them thinking, "What the Johnnies is going to happen in there?"  It doesn't even have to be setting their minds on the subject you teach.  As teachers, we want to create a sense of wonder in our students.

Having your students wonder about your class outside of it
Serves to draw them into it when they are in it.

Even without intentionality, anticipation is already built into the minds of your students for your class by your reputation.  Just like we were as kids, our students are asking their older brothers and sisters, and their older friends about you and your classroom.  Are your strict or lax?  Sweet or Tough?  What impressions are you leaving in the minds of your former students? Is it a weight that you will be bringing into your classroom on the first day.  For some, that sack has students diving into it as if it is Santa's toy bag at Christmas because what they heard about your classroom has them ready to dive in.  However, for others, students may perceive it as an immovable barrier for them, one only on teacher can move out of the way for the student to immerse themselves into the wonders of what you are teaching.

What are some other ways we can build anticipation?  There are always social media accounts that you can promote through your school to keep students and parents abreast of all the awesome ideas you are seeking to implement in the classroom that year.  If you have ever drove down I-95 to Florida I am sure you remember the signs telling you how many miles to South of the Border (not the US/Mexican border, but the NC/SC border where a huge tourist trap goes by that name).  The same is done by Wall Drugs out west.  They build anticipation even if you don't stop into their establishment. Think about tweeting out on your classroom Twitter account "30 days until..." and each day add something different that your students will be experiencing that year in your classroom.

I have done two things over the past few years.  I've noticed that people are checking out my class webpage over the summer.  So I have created a video that is posted on my main page that typically shows me enjoying my summer and imploring them to continue enjoying their summer.  It doesn't discuss my classroom at all, but does give a glimpse into my personality, who I am, and typically, shows off my beautiful daughters (and I hope subconsciously says I am a Dad first, teacher second).  My hope is that my students see in that video, "I think his class is going to be fun".

Here is a link to the video...

When my students walk down the hallway toward my classroom they are greeted on the walls with signs that are similar to ones you see posted in the city promoting some musical event that are plastered to the wooden barriers that block constructions sites.  The signs say "WHAC(k) is Back" (WHAC(k) stands for World History Athletic Club, it is what I call my gamified classroom).  I want them walking into class saying "What is WHAC(k)?".  

I want them thinking about my classroom before they ever enter my classroom.

How else can we draw them into what we have to say?