What I Tell Students at Freshman Orientation

          Every year, since I arrived at Haverhill High School in 2003, I’ve been inviting the Freshman English classes down to the library for what I call a general orientation. It’s my way of welcoming the new class of fresh faces to our school and giving them a preview of what they can expect when they come into the HHS Library Media Center (LMC).

          The talk can last anywhere from twenty minutes to the whole period, depending on the teachers’ request. Sometimes the students are there to also check out books, so I abbreviate my introduction. Other times, I have the whole period to interact with the students. Either way, I find the opportunity to meet and greet that incoming class exciting and, sometimes, scary.

          Most of what I have to say is just run of the mill stuff. I introduce myself and Ms. Sicard, our fantastically awesome and phenomenally reliable LMC assistant. I give the students a general tour of how the library is set up; show them where the fiction, biography and non-fiction sections can be found. Let them know how to sign up for studies and what hours the library is open for students (7 am to 2:45 pm). I also make them aware that we have one of the largest collections of books for a high school library (over 35,000 titles) and that we subscribe to over 40 magazine titles.

          I point out that four directed study classes and the Jobs for Bay State program are also physically connected to the LMC, and that VHS students have an area dedicated to their online classes. I tell them how and when they can use any of the nearly seventy computers we have in the library, and that there is absolutely no food or drink, including H20, allowed in the LMC. I also remind them that any and all rules that apply to the rest of the school about phones, headphones, hats, hoods, low rider pants, inappropriate shirts, and such, apply as well in the library.

          Then comes the part of my speech that can’t be found anywhere in the handbook. It is the portion of my orientation that deals more with my educational philosophy and my personal approach to dealing with the everyday details that we will encounter throughout the year(s). It is my opportunity to make a real first impression about who I am, and what I am about. It gives me a chance to distill what I have learned about teaching and being a teacher in seventeen years of trying my hand at this noble profession. Every time that I do it, it is slightly different, but what I am trying to express boils down to a few simple, easy to comprehend ideas, that go something like this:

  •  I am a teacher first and foremost, and I am here to help every student that wants to learn.
  • Haverhill High is every students’ school, but it is my workplace, and I will not permit anyone to interfere with my job.

  • I view the LMC as the heart and soul of the academic life of our school, and no one is allowed to disrupt the important work that has to be done.

  • Nothing that I do in my office, is as important as anything I do to help a student or teacher.

  • Everyone is responsible for their own behaviors, and there are consequences for disrupting others pursuing their education, and finally,

  • We are a community, and everything we do as individuals affects who we are as a whole.

          After that, I tell them how excited I am to have them join our family, and that I hope that in four years time, we will all be better off for having known each other. Thank you for reading and I hope to see you all tomorrow.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2009. All rights reserved.  

About htwilson

born in brooklyn, raised in queens, massachusetts, that's where I be.
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One Response to What I Tell Students at Freshman Orientation

  1. Pingback: Reflecting on Freshman Orientation « HHS Thinker’s link

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