In seminar yesterday, my classmates and I were fortunate enough to have a Dr. John Williams as a guest speaker. Aside from a wonderful and personally pertinent conversation on ethics (more on why it's pertinent later), Dr. Williams demonstrated how he began the school year when he was a teacher. He began by greeting each student at the door, shaking each of their hands, and looking them in the eyes. He then handed them each a sheet of paper with directions to get into groups and prepare questions to validate his credibility as a teacher. I loved the idea of questioning a teacher's credibility. After all, his plan is to spend a year with you, "teach" you material, and, in general, just be the adult in the room. Don't you, first of all, want to know that he is worthy of those tasks? Because I feel it pertains to my Pledge to Guide Today's Students, I thought I might take this idea and make it more of my own.
I do like the idea of a discussion about credibility on the first day, not only because it will show my students who I am, but also because it will introduce to the students a sort of academic theme we will maintain throughout the year--questioning credibility in all materials we use and aspects of our education. I think I'd like to begin with having the students look up the word credibility, first. The problem with that is that I don't want to have physical dictionaries in my classroom. Could I trust my students to use computers first thing, without even discussing it? Well, of course. Why not? That will set the tone for the year, as well--I respect you enough to trust you with this task, and I believe you are mature enough to handle it.
I could have directions on the board, perhaps something like, "Sit at the desk where your name is. With the people at your table, find the definition of Credibility using the laptop provided [or 'the computer with the same number that's on your table' if I don't have laptops]. With your group, develop 4-5 questions you want to ask ME to determine MY credibility. Order them by importance and then sit quietly while you await further directions." Then, of course, I would come in and answer the questions and lead into a discussion about credibility in general and how it will come in to play in the day-to-day activities of our classroom.
I'm eager for the chance.