My First Day Activity

Note: I borrowed this idea from a National Council of English Teacher blog post called “How Poetry Can Earn You a 6 Figure Job”. For all my Googling, I can’t find it. If I infringe on another author in any way, please alert me so I can make corrections.

I don’t love re-using old lessons. I like staying current. I like designing lessons. I have mild attention deficit disorder. But my first day lesson plan for my 11th graders has been a staple for the last few years.

When kids come in they grab a survey. My survey is nothing special: I ask about their favorite teacher, what I do that drives them crazy, and their super power. They also pick up a job description. I’ve copy/pasted below:

Education: Bachelor’s

Job Type: Full-Time

Location: Tulsa, OK

Compensation: $100,000 (approximate)

Start Date: Immediate

Provide technical support and assistance to both Williams internal application systems users and external customers/partners. Develop familiarity with business, application, and technical processes and use this understanding to improve the processing and accuracy of the data and the performance of the interfaces between internal systems and external customers. Lead efforts to resolve issues across business, application support, and technical support groups seeking the best solution to problems that arise in the process, performance, or accuracy of application systems and the data exchanged between internal and external systems and customers. Problem resolution efforts will often include direct interaction with external customers. Must be a strong leader able to manage cross-functional teams toward a common goal of problem resolution and process improvement. Problem resolution efforts will often involve teams with dissimilar goals and priorities and the need to manage them toward a common goal and gain the support of their disparate management organizations. Must possess exceptional written and oral skills. A good existing understanding of business, application, and technical areas is required and/or the ability to seek out and assimilate information independently and quickly. Must be able to work with little supervision and manage time effectively. Knowledge and experience acquired through this position will serve as excellent preparation for movement into advanced leadership positions within Williams Communications. Bachelors degree or equivalent experience.

Then I review annotating, making sure to emphasize that the goal is for them to be able to use the document instead of re-reading it over-and-over. They annotate, we use phones or dictionary for some of the more difficult words, and then I ask them to list all of the skills needed to land this job. We create a collaborative document on the projector. Here’s one from this year:


Good people skills


Strong leader

Express yourself through writing and talking

Independently work


Knowledge and experience

Problem solving

Working quickly

This, I tell them, is what we are doing in here. These are the skills we want to build. And then, if there’s time, I do some rules and tell them how excited I am.

I love this. First, it’s a break from everyone meticulously reviewing their syllabus. Gah. Second, we’re setting the tone by doing real work. I urge my students to annotate everything, so it’s a skill they need. I even get to present a rubric!

Finally, it’s real. I had a young lady challenge me on this, that $100,000 isn’t a that much money1. She Googled the average earnings for a bachelor’s degree, and all of a sudden she was paying attention.

It’s a great lesson. That hard part? Living up to the expectations.

  1. Thanks, Rick Ross