That said, I also understand the importance of structure, distinct boundaries, and well-defined procedures (That's undoubtedly obvious from things I've written in the last few days.). In 2012 I visited the phenomenal and energetic Ron Clark Academy (RCA) in Atlanta, Georgie. It was indescribable. The students there, ranging from fifth to eight grades, were polite and professional without being stiff and militaristic. They could never describe their teachers as discipline dictators or control freaks. They wouldn't think of saying their teachers were micromanaging their school experience.
For the first part of the school year, they were subjected to "Boot Camp" - a time when students were not permitted to speak and time in which they learned the expectations and consequences of a series of the school. I have adopted some of the concepts displayed at RCA. I have also set aside a period during our first three days of school for the purpose of "Boot Camp", but don't take that the wrong way: I am very careful to encourage my pupils without pushing them to the breaking point. There is a terrific balance of a strict call for manners and a passion-filled classroom.
That whole Don't-Smile-Until-Christmas concept is for the birds. Parents, your children will come home on the first few days with smiles of exhaustion and expressions of respect (I hope). They will have stories about the fun they had with their "crazy" new teacher (Only believe half of it, and in return I promise to only believe half of what they tell me about you.). But, they will also widen their eyes a little when you ask about what they did. I hope they will even appreciate the portion of the day we devote to "Boot Camp".
This will be a more serious period when we discuss essential expectations. In the midst of getting to know each other with games and joking, this will be the time when I expect the full attention of my class. As such, I will post the following message ahead of time: