I work really, really hard to make my classroom a work hard, play hard environment. Every year we have a theme (separate from the yearbook theme) and the kids get to make come to life. This year’s theme is SPACE! So my bulletin board backgrounds are galaxies, there are hundreds of glowy stars on the ceiling, we made tie-dye galaxy headbands at camp, and have lots of plans for how to incorporate it all through the year. I am very intentional with making sure it’s incorporated, because it really unifies my three staffs. And, there’s nothing worse than a half-baked theme! UGH.
We started school on a Wednesday, so technically this is a look into the first week and half of school.
I make the first 3.5 weeks of school “boot camp” for the publications staffs. It does slow down production, and many returners are anxious to get started. But it’s proven to really benefit the newbies and be a solid refresher to oldies. This year my rosters are mixed, meaning I have people from each staff in various class periods. It’s a bit of logistical mess, and to be honest with you I don’t exactly know how it’s all going to play out… but we’re rolling with it. Each staff’s bootcamp is a little bit different, so we’re having to manage lots of things going on in the room all at one. But – they all start the same way, thankfully.
The first day is all about staff photos.
We take individual shots for Press Passes, and group shots. These are super fun to look back on at the end of the year, as the staff grows so much closer. Afterward, we upload them to the shared drive and project them one by one. Everyone of course hates their own and but GUSHES over everyone else’s – leaving them feeling happy and uplifted.
Day 2 we made Galaxy Slime!
I wanted to incorporate the space theme right away… and I knowwww slime is so last year. But! What a great interactive activity! It was so fun – and so messy – but really was a great lesson as well. (This is THE EASIEST slime recipe in my professional slime making opinion – but also allows for some troubleshooting which is good for them to work through.) They were to get in groups and complete the task in two phases. First, they need to communicate: decide on the plan, who is doing what, what color slime were they going to make, what color glitter, etc. But they couldn’t touch anything. Then, phase 2 was all done silently, executing the plan they made. From my perspective, it was hilarious! Everyone was able to figure it out and go home with a small tub of slime. After they made the slime I explained how communication is EVERYTHING to being on the publications staffs and we have to remain flexible, as things do change often. I ended up with a gross FrankenSlime from everyone’s leftovers that was played with for several days before I had to say goodbye to her.
Day 3-4 we went over the Staff Manual.
There isn’t a great way to make this super fun, as it’s just one of those necessary things. However, there is a way to be strategic about it.
Every first Friday of the month we plan a birthday party. For August, it’s just the first Friday after school starts, and includes summer birthdays too. So, it fit perfectly – loading up on donuts and cake definitely made going through the staff manual quite a bit easier.
Monday meant it was time to do real stuff.
I put each editor in charge of teaching a lesson to the staff, related to their duties. I have a lot of faith in them, but I also fully expected to have to step in, add commentary, and re-explain things. But they did beautifully! I was so impressed on how they took ownership of teaching the newbies and laying out high expectations for how they want the year to go. Best decision I ever made. Aside from eating that donut pictured above. It was dang good.
And then, it was over!
I am SUPER looking forward to week 2. I have a great staff this year, and it’s taken a few years to build into the dynamic we have. This year we are added a third staff (the photographers) and I think that will allow us to really ramp up the quality of the publications because of the division of labor.
I would love to hear what activities you plan with your staffs/classes for right at the start of the school year!