The first day of school is often filled with a mix of excitement and anticipation for both teachers and students. However, for history teacher Brian Chervitz and his students, the class period took an unexpected turn. Rather than diving straight into regular coursework, Brian prioritized building a sense of community and setting expectations for the upcoming academic year.
Brian initiated a unique approach by gathering all his students during each period for a brief conversation. The goal was twofold–to help students get to know each other and to open up a dialogue about the expectations for the class. This intentional focus on building connections from the start laid the foundation for a positive and collaborative learning environment. Then, using poster paper and markers borrowed from the art room, Brian and his students brainstormed and illustrated what a successful EYC Academy student looks like. What do they have? What do they do? What skills do they need (or at least practice)?
Each student was responsible for contributing one idea to the poster. Our in-person students grabbed the markers and helped visualize the virtual students’ ideas. And when one student was struggling to think (perhaps because it was only the first day back from break, after all!), other students helped out. “I loved seeing the students talk to each other and build a little community right away in the semester,” Brian said.
With each idea, Brian also asked the students to give him a 1-sentence explanation for the visual element on the poster. That way, students can see the thought-process behind each idea on the poster. Brian printed out these sentences and added them to the poster.
When the students finished making their contributions, Brian saved the poster to be used by two other classes, so that by the end of the day, he had two versions of a successful EYC student to hang on his wall. They will be great visual reminders of the skills and tools that make our students succeed!
Students had some amazing ideas! Check out some of them below.