Of course, things get better quickly, and one way to help ease the transition at any grade level is to have a wide variety of activities to build community, teach character education and expectations and establish routines. It helps if this can be accomplished in fun way!
I have tried many different activities at the beginning of the school year, and have tried to narrow it down to the most effective things... I really like to teach about the Golden Rule, have students come up with our class rules, share our hopes and dreams for the year (okay, this works better with some kindergarten groups and others just don't get it), and teach students to take an active role in the conflict resolution process with their peers. I use a Peace Table to assist with the conflict resolution process. I have an old post about that here.
|My classroom "Peace Table".|
I also think it's very important to remember that some students are very shy, and to start with some more gentle ice-breaker songs, greetings and games in your morning meeting--that it something that I overlooked during my first couple of years and being aware has really helped those shy little guys! For example, on the first day of school I introduce everyone during morning meeting, since some little ones are too afraid to say their own names. We do not jump right into sing-songy name games!
I'm sure most of you can tell that I'm a big believer in the Responsive Classroom model!! What do you all like to do at the beginning of the year??? I love to hear what works for others!
I had started working on this Character Ed/Community Building Activities unit for TpT all the way back at the beginning of June, but just managed to finish it this morning. I have included All About Me activities, a fun partner interview, a passport to help teach students the expectations around the school, several class books, a get-to-know-you bingo game,summer vacation postcard writing activity, a hopes and dreams writing template, and instructions for making your own Peace Table. I am planning on using almost every single activity at the beginning of this year (the bingo game and postcard are for first grade up).
my TpT store and check out the unit!