Back to School: Boot Camp

Let’s get back into the school mode. Off that beach chair, it is time to hit the desk. Better finish that summer reading requirement soon. Get your school supplies together and start packing your backpack.

In some states students and teachers are heading back to school in the following weeks. In the state that I live in students will return to school on September 1st and a few others will be returning after Labor Day. What can teachers do differently to kick off a positive school year? Below are some suggestions for activities that I plan to do the first few days of school to get to know my students and get students energized for the new school year. I do not focus on content or classroom rules the first week of school. My objective is to build community and engage in a few team-building activities that engage students.

1. Executive Marbles & Command Performances – Many teachers engage in the classroom scavenger hunt which is always fun but also very common. I found this one scavenger hunt at a leadership conference I took my students to many years ago and have adapted it to use with my students. It is not the “find someone who was born in the same month as you” scavenger hunt. Rather, every students has a number and students have to compete a specific task with another student. Every one of the scavenger hunt question is a preview or pre-assessment what we will cover in class over the course of the semester. For example, “Do a high five with student #5 and tell this person the career you thought you wanted to have when you were six years old” and “On the back of this handout, have students #12 list the top 5 careers s/he would absolutely not do, under any circumstances.”

2. Product in a Box – In October of 2004 I brought a group of female students to attend a conference about economic empowerment for girls sponsored by Independent Means. All the participants were put in small groups of fifteen and were given a box filled with random recycled materials. The girls had fifteen minutes to create a product out of the materials in the box and also complete a business plan about the product they created. This is a great team building activity and it inspires creatively and positive energy the first day of class. Students then present their product and business plan to the whole class. To order your own product in a box you can visit


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