The first day of school is one of the most exciting and anxious days for teachers. You greet about 100 fresh young faces that are excited, and anxious, too, or they do not want to be there. Usually, at least as a high school math teacher, you spend the first day going over the syllabus, reviewing classroom rules, sharing minimal information about yourself, and doing an icebreaker with the kids. I was a tough teacher and jumped into the first lesson!
As back to school is in full swing most places, I thought this would be the perfect time to share three ways I would change my first day of school and how I would use Rhythm to do it. You may not be involved in a classroom but could use these ideas with your corporate training programs or even with your own children.
1. Quarterly Planning: Grading Period Planning with Each Class (yes - with the students!)
If I were teaching now, my first day would be different. I would spend less time on a syllabus and more time learning about my students’ strengths and setting expectations and goals for the semester/year/grading period. As a class, we would create Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to make sure we’re on track every week for success.
For each class, I would have a Classroom Health Index KPI. This would be our parent KPI to let us know how we’re doing as a whole. Then we would discuss the KPIs to roll up to this parent that would let us know if we’re healthy or not. As my initial idea (students might have better ideas!), I would want 3 children KPIs to help us track our performance. 1) # of classroom disruptions (Leading), 2) # of missing/absent assignments (Leading) & 3) # of A’s & B’s on tests and quizzes (Results). Then we would determine together the Red-Yellow-Green for each KPI.
With our four KPIs (one parent and three children), I would make a giant 13-Week Race dashboard (or however many weeks your grading period is). I would print them on long pieces of paper with circles for each week and three rows of lines under each circle for Projected, Actual, and Variance values. Then, I would have the students sign up for weeks to do our weekly meeting prep. They would be responsible for getting the numbers and coloring the circles the correct color.
The most important question students will probably have is, Why are we setting up these KPIs to track weekly? If the class health is Green or SuperGreen, we get pizza, or ice cream, or a field trip - something awesome that will make them so proud of being successful from showing up and doing the work to their best ability. Even if they are Green by the middle of the grading period when progress reports are sent, I would have a small celebration to motivate them to keep up the good work.
2. Weekly Adjustment Meetings: Weekly Check-Ins with Each Class
Now that we have our KPIs set up and the process in place, time to do the work! I would have Weekly Adjustment Meetings on Fridays to kick-off our class. We would discuss our KPIs - did we have multiple disruptions this week? Yes - then why was some of our behavior unacceptable, and what should we do next week? No - good job! See how much we get done when we’re focused and engaged?
Going over our KPIs every week will teach the kids accountability and show that what they do really does make a difference, not just with their grade but with the success of the class and a school as a whole.
3. Annual Planning: Create Lesson Plans for the Whole Semester/Year with Fellow Teachers
Thinking back on my years in the classroom, I would have loved to have one day dedicated to working with my fellow teachers and planning out all the lessons for the whole semester or year. If we could have a day to share specific lesson plans and activities for each standard, it would have made every day and every lesson so much richer. I could then use my planning period for adding my own personal touch to the lessons if what we collaborated together wasn’t my style. My first couple of years felt like most of my planning periods were spent searching last minute for a fun activity to do for my next lesson. Too stressful for my planning personality!
I would then want to come back together at least once a grading period (or more frequently, possibly after each unit) and share our learnings: what we did to add our own style, what we liked, and what we would change for the next time around. Then for the next annual planning day, we would have our notes and adjust for another successful school year.
I hope you can use my ideas for your training programs in your company, in your classroom, or with your own children!
Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images