First Few Minutes of Class

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12 thoughts on “First Few Minutes of Class”

  1. For some years I started every class with a short proverb or saying or quotation. At first I was doing it because I realized that in advanced reading students were always stumped by allusions to common proverbs that they had never heard before. So I tried to familiarize them with the basic culture that writers take for granted and never explain. Early to bed, early to rise, etc. Then I started throwing in Yogi Berra sayings and the kids loved it. “If you don’t go to other people’s funerals, they won’t come to yours.” It helped to get the class off on a good note. When possible I used a proverb or quotation that contained a structure that we were working on. It was my bell ringer activity.

  2. I love this topic…and Judy’s ideas. How we start class is important. It sets a tone. It either says, I care about you or I care about the data.

    This week our staff received a SIX page single-spaced packet on how to implement data-driven “do knows” in our classes in order to raise test scores. NOT the message I want to send (I quietly tore mine up into a zillion little pieces during the presentation.)

    Imagine, if every other period of the day, students start class with this tonteria…it is depressing and demoralizing and dehumanizing.

    They need us to be people, and to interact with them as people, every moment that we can.

    with love,

      1. Do now:
        Put a smile on your face and get ready to speak Spanish together.

        Students will comprehend and communicate in spoken Spanish.

        Students will respond appropriately to comprehension check questions.

        Wouldn’t it be great if our job were really that easy.

  3. I also try to start the day/period off cheerfully, on Mondays especially. I’ll ask what day it is. Students usually give me a very lackluster, “Montag”. I then say very enthusiastically, “Heute ist Montag! Hurra!” This elicits groans, so I tell them that Monday is a good day because we get to be together in German class, and I missed them over the weekend. Besides, Monday is “Bundesliga-Tag” (soccer day). Grudgingly they admit that Monday isn’t so bad after all. This quickly becomes our Monday ritual. (All done in good humor, even if not with enthusiasm)

    I also write a German “Saying of the week” on the board. Right now I’m concentrating on color sayings so we can see that different cultures associate colors differently. Ones I have used or will use include:
    Er ist blau (He is blue) = He’s drunk
    Er macht blau (He makes blue) = He’s playing hookie
    Er sieht schwarz (He sees black) = He’s pessimistic
    Er fährt schwarz (He’s riding black) = He didn’t buy a ticket (for the bus, train, etc.)
    Er sieht rot (He sees red) = He’s angry
    Er ist gelb vor Neid = He’s yellow with envy
    These allow me to show that some are the some, some assign a different color to a familiar saying, and some express a new idea that we don’t associate with a color. Next semester we will concentrate on sayings that originated in the Middle Ages and are still used today, for example:
    Be on his high horse
    Have someone in his visor (i.e. be able to see him through the helmet) – by the way, in the film Ladyhawk the final fight scene includes views through the visor that give an excellent idea of what it was like (just in case someone doesn’t have a helmet handy for students to try on).
    Stand at the pillory (i.e. be subjected to public ridicule)
    and many others

    BTW, I see “being cheerful” differently from being a cheerleader. “Cheerful” is literally “full of cheer” or “full of good spirits” or “full of good will”. How that is expressed varies according to personality; Jason Fritze expresses it more boisterously than I, and Ben is far more cheerful than he recognizes – it includes smiling at students at appropriate times and laughing with students when something funny happens. Ben has given us numerous examples of this in his classes, so he is more cheerful than he thinks throughout the period. It is a much different approach from the “don’t smile until December” school of thought.

    Hmm, I wonder how many students have any teachers who actually have a good time in class. If the teacher doesn’t enjoy what he or she is doing, how can the students enjoy it?

    Just some random thoughts.

    1. It’s not hard to figure out. During a free period walk around the building and listen to the teaching voices coming out of the classroom….I try to do it a couple of times a week (for exercise and perspective…) Trust me, they need us to smile!!

      with love,
      whatever color that is in German,

  4. I am usually cheerful but I am really bad about having a routine. I need a routine. I used to ask what day it was and I think that I need to go back to that because even though it is lackluster it gets in the days of the week and we can all groan light-heartedly together.

    1. Karen, following Ben’s weekly schedule has been a true revelation to me. It keeps me focused with enough leeway to riff if I need to, but I have ceased to feel bogged down on structures that have lost their omph. I love Ben’s weekly schedule which takes me a little longer than a week but that’s une autre histoire!!

  5. I loved reading this thread. So glad I did. Drew, love that lesson plan. I’m considering adopting that for 90% of my lesson book. Maybe I should get a stamp made… 🙂 But seriously… And Ben thanks for bringing it to my forethought. Laurie, thank you for putting difficult and frustrating sentiments into plain and simple English.

    And Robert each time you mention the bundesliga I am that much closer to getting it going. In Google Calendar I was able to “subscribe” to certain sports, and more specifically even regional leagues. There were many to choose from in the Spanish speaking world, at least 10 different ones, with it seems at least 15 teams per most leagues. Do you have anything written that explain how you’ve come to do it in your classes? Do you spend the entire class on Mondays doing the bundesliga? I would imagine you could get to know the players, read about their lives and stuff. Talk about who won/lost, and if anything really crazy happened. What else? (Or direct me to where you’ve explained this already, please. Mil gracias.)

  6. A bit off topic, but for anyone interested in the French soccer league, there’s an ongoing rivalry between Marseilles and Monaco, which has Prince Albert’s support. Bernard Tapie said that the supporters in Marseilles knew the names, ages, statistics, etc. of all their players and also knew the names and ages of their children. Whereas at Monaco the players knew the names and ages of all their supporters and their children.

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