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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Your Classroom Door as a First Impression

Every semester I tell my undergraduate students in the Literacy Department at Dowling College that when they are writing their resumes and cover letters for their first teaching job they need to craft those resumes and cover letters in a very thoughtful, careful, and creative way.  The Assistant Superintendent for Personnel to whom that resume and cover letter are being sent does not know who they are, what they know, or what they believe.  Those two pieces of paper are their first (and usually only) shot at impressing a person who truly needs to be impressed if they have a chance of getting chosen out of the hundreds of applicants lining up for the one or two slots available for the fall.  I try to impart that what they put down on those pages is a first impression.  And first impressions are important. 

Your classroom door, like those carefully crafted resumes and cover letters, is also a first impression.   Even if your door is open for most of the school day (as mine was when I was teaching) your classroom door is typically the first thing that students, parents, colleagues, and administrators see when they enter your home away from home. For me, literacy is always the driving force for all learning that takes place in a classroom.  So why not have your classroom door, your first impression, reflect how important reading and writing are to you from day one? 

Here are a few ideas for creating a door that really gives everyone who passes through it, an idea of your literacy hopes, dreams, and goals for the upcoming year.  What will your door look like?

For older students who can't pry themselves away from their phones, check out this way to mesh texting and books.  Have students use "text speak" to write short summaries about their latest reads.  

 This door has students write book critiques and color code them for "must reads", "maybe reads", and "skips".  

 This door shows what the teacher has been reading to show that he/she lives a literate life, both in and outside of the classroom.

 Students post the book covers of their favorite reads for the school community to see.

 All kids know what Redbox is.  Why not create a door with "Readbox" with all of your students' reads from the summer.  Then change them from month to month.  This teacher even has QR codes for more information about the books!

Looking for ways to increase your students'' vocabulary in Writing Workshop?  Use your classroom door to build up words and ideas for them to use in their writing.  Doubles as a word wall too!

Want to link social media and learning?  Have students tweet (in 140 characters or less, of course...) their ideas about their books, writing pieces, or any other learning taking place inside your room.