Well. It's no secret that another school year is upon us. That means Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has to get down to business and square away her classroom and her charges on the first day. Once lost, first days cannot be regained. The teacher sets the tone. This ship has one captain, and that captain is Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. I refuse to let my ship list for want of a leader.
Right off the bat, I tell my kids that I'm a snitch. Yep. Don't say anything in my class that you wouldn't want your parents or the principal to hear. Because I will run down the hall, faster than a speeding bullet, and sing like a canary in a hot New York minute. My first duty is to keep everybody in our school safe. And I will do whatever it takes. If you want to brag about your bad rule-breaking self, don't think it's gonna be our little secret. I consider such revelations to be a cry for help. And I'm all about helping.
Next, I let them know that I'm the boss. They can stay after class and complain or ask me a question if they disagree with my heavy-handed rule, but I will not take up such a discussion in front of the whole class. Also, that I will get the last word, even if it's while they are on the way down the hall to the office, clutching a discipline referral. That's just how it is in my class. Get used to it. When you become a teacher, you can have things your way.
It might come as a surprise to you that the students and I generally get on quite well. Because they know what to expect. This is not a cheerocracy. It is an autocracy. A Mrs. Hillbilly Momocracy.
Like training a puppy, dealing with a car salesman, or indoctrinating military recruits...I must show them who is really in charge. I stop short of whacking students with a rolled-up newspaper, walking out the door if I am not satisfied with our interactions, and shaving their heads. But I DO have certain first-day rituals that work. For me. This is high school, you know. Don't expect any mollycoddling from Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.
First of all, I seat every class in alphabetical order, from the door across to the windows. Then I start again on the next row back, and so on. Don't go worrying about the Ws. They get to sit closer to my desk and soak up the sunny vibes given off by Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. That's an even trade-off for having to peer through heads to see the projector screen. Yes. Divide and conquer. None of this "sitting by my friend" stuff for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's classroom.
Next, I go over my Don't Ever Do List. That's not its real name. If I typed in its real name, somebody might consult her BFF Google and find my supersecret blog. That won't do. So I paraphrase. This is a list of the most outrageous things students have done or tried to do in my classroom. Some are unbelievable. Like stuffing a purse in my mini-fridge freezer. I have to be careful not to act like I find them funny. Then the new students will try to make that list.
I used to pass out books and give an assignment the first day. Not anymore. Too much work for me, what with kids changing schedules, and some showing up a week late. So now we play Science World Jeopardy the first day. It's all sciency and stuff. I divide the room in half for teams, put that site on my projector, and off we go. Everybody must take a turn. Discussion with teammates is optional. The hour flies by, and the bell rings before you know it. The second day we read Science World Magazine and discuss the science behind the articles. The third and fourth days we have assignments out of the magazine. And THEN I'm ready to pass out textbooks.
Yep. Feels like the year is progressing already. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has only two left, you know.