"You set the stage and then you get off the stage.
You let the kids just talk to each other because... that's
the kind of discussion you want. [You] want them responding
in the most natural way for them. 'What are your questions?
What did you notice? What did you see? What surprises you?
What seems significant to you?' But you have to take them
through that process at the beginning of the year... and
you hear many more of their voices as the year progresses."
8th Grade Teacher, Oyster River Middle School
Durham, New Hampshire
adage "Well begun is half done" is particularly
applicable to the classroom. The relationships and routines
teachers establish at the beginning of the school year resonate
throughout the months that follow. Wise teachers think carefully
about what is important in their classrooms, and how they
can convey those values from the first moments students enter
the classroom. The physical arrangement of the room and its
contents send powerful messages to an incoming class. The
earliest experiences teachers offer their students can provide
memorable starting points for what is to follow. The envisionment-building
teachers you will meet in this video are particularly aware
of the impact of first impressions. The experiences they design
for the first weeks of school serve to develop important relationships
between the teacher and the students, between the students
and the teacher, among the students themselves. Additionally,
they are introducing students to the values and the processes
of their particular classroom. Students are learning to speak
respectfully to one another, to listen to different points
of view, to make connections to a wide range of literary texts,
and to share their developing understandings with one another.
They are taking the first steps toward enjoying a lifetime
as thoughtful readers of literature.
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For a complete guide to the workshop session activities,
download and print our Support Materials.