I Blew It


Today I blew it. It was the first day of school and I didn’t get to anything important today. They say first impressions mean everything and I am not so sure I made correct impression on my students.

Rather than talking about grading procedures and classroom rules, we talked about dogs and little sisters. Instead of hitting the ground running with standardized test preparations, we met new friends and learned something new about each other. When we probably should have been discussing the learning standards, we were wasting time discussing which books we read over the summer. During passing periods when I should have been yelling at kids to get to class on time, I made the decision to help them with their locker combos and piles of supplies. In class when I should have been going through the grading scale and telling them how to get an A, I was actually telling them that grades don’t mean that much to me and I just want them to learn. Kids walking into my room were not greeted with walls full of catch phrases and spelling rules, but faced blank walls that I asked them to decorate and own. In my off period I did not go down and memorize every test score and data point in my students’ file, but decided to let them be their own data point and show me every day who they are. I made the decision to not start building students today but rather begin building relationships.

No, I did not get to anything important today. Hopefully tomorrow will be more productive. J

34 comments:

Lyn Hilt said...

What a lovely account of Day 1. I hope all teachers and students experience the same!

Chris Francik said...

Excellent post! Can't imagine a more wonderful day at school!

MLHoffman said...

This is awesome. I hope I can blow it on my first day with my grade 7 and 8's too.

MLHoffman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Becky Bair said...

I hope I can blow it on my first day, too! Sounds like it would be perfect! :)

Maureen Devlin said...

:)

starwatcher236 said...

Bravo!!!!

J Allen said...

I guess we'll see what happens when your students take the test, huh?!?!

Norm Usiskin said...

Josh you have inspired me to have a "blown" first day with my fifth graders in a couple of weeks. Awesome!

Shana Ray said...

Get to actually KNOW your students. What a novel concept. :) Sounds like a great first day to me.

Josh Stumpenhorst said...

Thanks for all the comments. Yes, this was obviously a bit of tongue and cheek. However, I take relationship building and connecting with my students very seriously. You can not teach a student until you know the child.

charlene said...

Thanks for recognizing what the first few days of school should be about. I also do team-building and leadership activities.

Rabbi Akevy Greenblatt said...

I guess I blew it the also. We had a collaborative session establishing 3 basic rules and we got to know more about each other.

Anonymous said...

Monday I hope I "blow it" just like you did.

Anonymous said...

Great post! Your kids can't wait to come back tomorrow, & they already know how lucky they are.

Marc Crompton said...

Excellent post! I hope that tomorrow is just as "bad."

Anna Bring said...

Hi,
I think you "aced it". Hope that I will be as successful next week!

Kent Manning said...

For me relationships as the most important thing dawned on me two years ago. Blogged about it here: http://goo.gl/29nC6

SarahA said...

I'm secretly looking forward to going back to work... I hope my first day back is as pants as yours!!!! :D

Denise said...

I loved your post so much I "copied" it as an example to my colleagues in higher education:

Today was the first day of classes. I didn't talk to my students about how many points they need to get an A, how I will punish them if I hear their cell phone, the type of departmental final exam they MUST pass to move on, or how many tardies result in an absence. I didn't give them a writing diagnostic or a formative grammar assessment. Instead we learned how to pronounce each others' names correctly, how many different languages are represented in our one class, who has the most brothers and sisters, the technology they use to stay in touch with far-flung family and friends, and discussed the sheer delight of learning something new. Maybe tomorrow will be more productive. ;)

David Galpert said...

Amazing. Very inspirational! I think we should all "blow it" every day of the school year.

Sieng Chong Ling said...

You made the connection with the kids. That was an important thing. I made it a point every year to know all the names of my students. I want to let them know that they are not statistics and that they are distinct individuals. Great post!

Cybrary Man - Jerry Blumengarten said...

I disagree because you did not blow it! You made your students extremely comfortable in their new learning environment rather than overloading them with the usual things every other teacher did with them.

tabernathy said...

I blew it too. I showed my kids our history textbook and then dropped it into the trash can to convey to them that this book is obsolete as soon as its off the printing press because of history being an ever-changing curriculum. We can use the book but can't be bound by it.

Scott McLeod said...

Slacker. ;)

ajanteau said...

My first day of teaching was on Tuesday and it was very similar to yours. I was worried I didn't do enough info stuff for them. Your post makes me feel I'm on the right track! Thank you!

ajanteau said...

My first day of teaching was on Tuesday and it was very similar to yours. I was worried I didn't do enough info stuff for them. Your post makes me feel I'm on the right track! Thank you!

cnobiling said...

My day was as equally unproductive-didn't talk about US Govt OR psychology today-we got our cell phones out and contact lists merged so we are connected! Just joined twitter and will follow you AND the #sschat!

Mme Jones said...

Truly inspiring. Love it!

Anonymous said...

Nicely done, Josh. I wish more would do the same, and I hope my fifth grade sons are lucky enough to wind up in your classroom next year.

jason said...

What a Great Day!! Good for you! This is an account of a teacher that "Gets it"

Mr_Fines said...

In my kindergarten class we are going over rules and curriculum. Just kidding! That's my kind of 1st day. What an inspiring post. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Hope we all the blow the entire year!

King R said...

I have to disagree with you that you blew it. In fact, you eased students back into the classroom and gave them a real world connection. Plus, this can easily be fixed the following day with saying something like "Since we had a catch up on summer day, we have to get down to business." Or an approach of that sort. And yes, grades may not tell the whole tale of a students learning, but as soon as poor grades show up they will learn how important those grades can be.