That's why I started making the most of my current students' expertise to ease my new students into the year.
In addition to the end of year self reflections I do with my students, I usually do one of two ask the expert activities. In both of them, I rely on my current students to be the experts for my next year's students. Depending upon our time, we do one of these activities:
- Need to know: the first ask the expert activity we do is the need to know list. This is a top ten list of things students need to know to succeed in my class. Lists include ideas about getting organized, how to deal with struggling, and favorite activities to look forward. I keep the lists in a binder for future students.
- Survivor's guide: When we have more time, students work in groups to create illustrated guides to surviving my classroom: everything from dark chocolate is my favorite to the best activity to tips for when you get behind.
The unexpected big benefit of these activities is what I learn from students about my own teaching. Students that I may have thought students were engaged in, I discover they hated. I've learned better ways to share directions, set up centers, and check in with students to make sure that everyone feels a part of the classroom. Each year these student expert guides help me refine my teaching practice while serving as valuable tools for my future students. I look forward to finding out what my students are thinking this year!