The first day of the new school year is coming up soon for most of us. While the annual tradition of handing out the syllabus and grading policies will be very tempting, I challenge everyone to treat the first day for the opportunity that it is … A chance to make a lasting first impression about who we are and what they are going to learn. If we talk to them about classroom rules, then the rest of the year instantly becomes about playing school in order to collect enough points. If we talk enthusiastically about math, then the anticipated year is seen as a passionate quest to learn.

I got this idea for the new first day routine from a story I read about an American martial artist who toured fighting schools in China. He said that for all the good teachers, he learned everything they were going to teach him in the first lesson, and the rest of his time with them was spent mastering those first-day lessons.

So I asked myself, what is it that I want to communicate to my students that would embody an entire year’s worth of learning in one day? I came up with The 4 E’s of the Math Mission.

Empower you with fundamental Math Skills (Skills)

Enhance your critical thinking and problem solving (Reasoning)

Expose you to mathematical ideas and their related fields (Applications)

Enrich your life with a greater appreciation for the power and beauty of mathematics and a deeper understanding of its embedded role in the nature of the universe. (Nature’s Conspiracy)

My first day with students is this week. I will share then what I do with my 4 E’s introduction. In the meantime, I encourage you to think about what your new first day ritual may look like.

Thanks, Chris. That’s a great way to think about day 1. In recent semesters I’ve stopped going over my syllabus, and jumped right into a math task. But I like what the martial artist said, so I’m thinking now about what my goals are for the whole semester, and how I can begin to get my students to see those on the first day.

Thanks, Chris. That’s a great way to think about day 1. In recent semesters I’ve stopped going over my syllabus, and jumped right into a math task. But I like what the martial artist said, so I’m thinking now about what my goals are for the whole semester, and how I can begin to get my students to see those on the first day.