The opening of the State Fair here in Syracuse lets staff developers, like myself, know our summer work is almost completed. For teachers, on the other hand, it’s a time to get into their classrooms to begin to apply all their summer learning and plan for a new year of growth and learning.
On the final day of the Responsive Classroom® 1 training teachers read an article titled, “Getting Off to a Good Start” which is adapted from one of the best books developed by the Northeast Foundation for Children (developers of the Responsive Classroom approach to teaching) called The First Six Weeks of School (Denton/Kriete 2000). Many teachers find this book to be their blueprint to develop a classroom of engaging academics, positive learning communities, and effective classroom management which are the foundational domains of effective 21st Century classrooms. This book guides teacher week-by-week to plan and apply all the Responsive Classroom teaching practices that foster optimal learning and a true learning community where children can take risks and feel cared for. The book divides each week by differing developmental needs of the K-2, 3-4 and 5-6 classrooms. During the training I encourage my participants to use the summer time to plan out their first six weeks of school. I feel this is a wonderful gift you can give yourself and your students. Having the first six weeks planned out and organized will give the teachers the ability to be truly present with their students as they begin to learn about them individually, culturally and developmentally. If we have a good plan for our social and academic learning for the first six weeks, we can be more proactive in our discipline and thoughtful developing engaging learning experiences.
The goals of the first six weeks of school:
- Create a Climate and Tone of Warmth and Safety
- Teach Schedule, Routines, and Behavioral Expectations
- Teach Students about Their Physical Environment and Materials
- Establish Expectations about Ways We Will Learn Together and a Sense of Autonomy
I encourage you all to take these final days of summer and plan out your first six weeks of school. Many teachers who use the First Six Weeks of School book report that by the end of October they have classrooms that are functioning at higher levels learning and more important learning is being accomplished. Give yourself the gifts of being present and managing from the stance of “influence” rather than “power” by taking the time to plan out how you will introduce the classroom and learning goals for your grade level this fall.
For more information on the first six weeks:
Link to purchase the book: http://www.responsiveclassroom.org/product/first-six-weeks-school
Certified Responsive Classroom® trainer through the Northeast Foundation for Children, developers of the Responsive Classroom
Staff Development Specialist – OCM BOCES – Syracuse, NY
(OCM BOCES is a licensed agency for Responsive Classroom training by the Northeast Foundation for Children, developers of the Responsive Classroom)