Beep, beep, beep. The alarm goes off for the first time in over two months. You think to yourself, “Is this real? Did I actually hear my alarm go off?”
Yup, you stare at the clock and it is about two hours earlier than you were used to getting up during the school year. It’s the first day of school!
As you drag your body out of bed, you begin to realize that the first day is probably one of the most important days of the school year. The students are still angels, everyone is smiling, and the energy in the school building is contagious. But your stomach is churning, and your mind is racing because you feel like it is your first day of attending school all over again. Thoughts race through your mind: “What am I going to wear? Will I make it to school on time? Will my students like me? Will I have any troublemakers right off the bat?…
When you finally arrive at school, the magic starts to happen. You go into TEACHER MODE. Yes, that amazing time when you are in your “zone” like Michael Jordan used to get in during basketball games. You can’t miss. Your list on your desk is a mile long of things to accomplish that first day, but you fill up that cup (with whatever works for you) gaze through your lesson plans and realize there are only a few key things you need to accomplish today. Below they are listed in no apparent order.
On the first day of school, it is crucial that you develop a strong relationship with your students. There are so many ways to do this. For some of you, it may be to read a book that describes who you are, an art project that helps them learn about you, a list of your favorites, or even a PowerPoint presentation about you. What I have done in the past is create a “Star of the Week” poster. This poster has pictures of myself and my family, places that I have visited, and things I like to do. I also included my 5th grade class photo and report card. The students love trying to find me in the picture and can’t wait for me to reveal what grades I got in school. Whatever your method, establish that connection on the first day!
Go Over Procedures
A must on the first day is to establish procedures. Teachers often take this for granted. They often think their students know how to do things from the previous year. Well, I have learned that the hard way. So, make sure to establish procedures at the beginning of the year. Here is a list of many of the ones that I go over on the first day: morning routines, lockers, lining up, hallways, lunchroom, fire/tornado drill, sharpening pencils, independent work, and dismissal. We have created a resource that you can purchase by clicking here that includes a teacher resource page with purpose, teaching ideas, modeling, and role playing that you can do with your class. It also includes a kid friendly poster that you can display in your room. You can find it by clicking here.
Take a Tour
That first day it is also important to show your students where other rooms are in the school. You can get creative with this and create a class scavenger hunt, or take a whole class tour to such places as: the secretary’s office, the library, the gym, art and music room, the lunchroom, and any other place that they might visit throughout the school year. This eases a lot of anxiety that students may have.
Sure you are nervous, but do you remember what it was like to be a student on the first day of school? Think about how a new student to the school feels too! A lot of nervousness can be avoided by doing team-building activities throughout the day. If you are not familiar with Morning Meeting, this may be something you want to research. Morning Meeting provides students a chance to greet each other, learn about what interests they have, play a cooperative activity together and so much more. But there are simple games you can play in the classroom that are fun too such as: 7 Up, Silent Ball (toss a ball around the room with no talking), Beach Ball Toss Up (see how long a group can keep it up in the air) and so many more that you have probably done. You can also do a team building activity like make a puzzle piece for each of your students and then have them put it together to make a puzzle that you can display. The possibilities are endless so make sure to at least do some of them!
Show Them You Care
From the beginning bell to the ending bell, make sure to show your students that you are there for them. You would not believe how important you are in their day.By spending time listening to their stories before attendance, lunch, recess, and other times, you are showing that you care. Do not pass up the time to connect with students as well if they are working quietly on a project. Make each and every day the best for your students.!
By the end of that first day, your jitters have lifted. You are exhausted, but yet you feel like you connected with your class. You are off to a great start!
How do you prevent those first day jitters? We’d love to hear from you!