In this crazy week of prepping for the start of school, I've been in a few situations where I keep thinking about the book "Why We Teach", well really about one essay in particular. The teacher described her growing up years and the need for her to find her own voice and opinions. She got to the point where she didn't want to have a discussion with others or listen to other people's opinions on something before she had a chance to digest things and form her own opinion or method of doing something. Otherwise, she felt that she was just going along with the crowd or that her thoughts would either be stifled or not formed or swayed by what others thought.
So I periodically thought about this as I was coming up with a syllabus or a first day activity or how to decorate my room or procedures I want to put into place. Maybe it's not a "la la la la I don't hear you" type of situation where I think "it's my way or the highway, baby", but more of a reminder to think my own thoughts, then gather other opinions, then go back and reflect about how I think things should be done that carry my personality stamp.
Here's one new idea I'm trying, and who knows if it'll work. For the past many years I have taken a picture of each group of students on the 1st day of school and during that 1st class I had them fill out a seating chart AND print their names on a small sticky note. Then that 1st night I go print the pictures, and with double-sided tape I put their sticky notes on their picture. This helps me learn their names, and I also put all the pictures up in the room. They love to look at them at odd times during the semester.
Because I've seen that they SO love to go up and glance at all the pictures and discuss things and point certain things out (ooh, I just realized one reason why ... this helps them also to see who everyone is). Anyway, because of this, I'm going to ask them to bring in a favorite picture of themselves that 1st week (that I'll return to them later), and I'll use the awesome stikki clips to put them up as a border around either the blackboard or a bulletin board.