Almost 20 years have passed since I first walked into the classroom – Day 1 teaching in my classroom – and as I reflect today on that initial experience in the field I realize how much I counted on the other math teachers around me, especially my cooperating/mentor teacher. This is probably on my mind because a new group of TeacherReady students just submitted their first assignments in Lesson 1. They are reading and reflecting on the first day of school: writing an introduction to use on Day 1 to introduce themselves to their students; listing rules with consequences and rewards that they will use in their classroom; and developing procedures that they will teach to their students on the first day of school (or within the first week).
The challenge for me in the beginning was evident:
It was Monday… first period… chaos! “What?” I thought “kids won’t just come in and sit down?” The first ten minutes I spent settling both the kids down and myself. Finally, the faces no longer were blurry and I could hear one voice, my own.
It was Monday… second period… again, chaos! While I was taking care of numerous pink, blue, and white cards, my cooperating teacher stepped in, “There’s a quadratic equation on the board,” he piped. “Today we’ll go through the steps together as review. Tomorrow when you come in there will be another.” Ingenious! Have a “Problem of the Day” for the kids to do right when they enter the class.
It was Monday… third period… no chaos! While the students entered the room they got out some paper and got right on task. I was able to take care of attendance; students got their pencils sharpened or asked for one or for a book, and then got busy. Still a few kinks to work out… but definitely a whole lot better.
My mentor teacher modeled the method of using a “Problem of the Day” during one class period. I also talked with the other math teachers and they added their support and recommendations. Below are the steps that I took for implementation:
Write on the board (same place each day) a problem covered in the previous section.
Welcome students at classroom door, remind them of “Problem of the Day,” and encourage them to get started.
Complete attendance and other administrative tasks while students work (and without need to disturb them).
After 5 minutes, conduct a quick (formative) assessment (e.g., Green, Yellow, Red Cards) to determine whether individual students “Got it!” or “Maybe, but not sure,” or “Not happening.”
The “Problem of the Day” implemented with a simple and quick formative assessment provided me a gauge indicating how students were doing on the learning target from the previous day. This information helped me know when to move on, re-teach, or pay close attention to the groups of students who are not quite catching on.