Top Strategies for the First Day of the Year

Hello – 

As I started to get ready to return to university this year, my brain couldn’t help but wander to thoughts of what it will be like to have our own classrooms and of what teachers all over the district were doing to prepare for the start of the year.  The more I thought about it, the more I started to panic! There is so much to think about and so much we don’t know! Thank goodness for the post-secondary education system and this assignment – which has led me to do research on this very thing…

For this blog post I will be focusing on the strategies that are the most recommended for the very first day of school. I have done lots of reading and listening to experts and experienced teachers on what they think are the most important steps to take on the first day to make an impression and to start off on the right foot. 

First of all, be very organized! Preparation, preparation, preparation!  The first day is all about setting routines and introducing the students to their classroom community. It’s very important that you establish rules and guidelines of the expectations you have for student’s behaviours. Whether you set the rules yourself or you develop class rules as a group, the guidelines will help students to feel calm and responsibility for their own actions.

Some routines you may want to introduce would be:

  • How you would like to students to move around the classroom.
  • Where they keep their belongings.
  • Hand raising procedures.
  • Where they can find supplies and what to do if they need anything.
  • Bathroom procedures.
  • Beginning/end of day routines.
  • How to move in the hallways/line up.
  • How you will get students attention during class time.

Secondly, the first few days of school are a very important time to begin making connections with your students. Take time during your day to do some “Getting to know each other” activities. Don’t assume all the kids in the class know each other, they need to get to know each other just as much as you need to get to know them. Setting up a safe and friendly environment will help you in the future with management and motivation.  Make your students feel welcome on the first day of school and help them to get to know you as well. Nothing makes a student feel more comfortable than knowing their teacher is excited to meet them and has prepared for their arrival.

Now that you’ve thought about your routines, getting to know your students and how you would like them to behave…..what about the school work?? When is the right time to start students on academic work? It is said that the very first day (second at the latest) is the right time to begin! If you are all fun the first week then that could set an expectation that there will not be any work and students could struggle to transition as well as they could have. Keep your lessons and classwork really simple. You can also use this time to address to students how you would like them to header their work and also where you would like them to hand in completed work. Make sure to have one really great lesson that shows the students what kind of teacher you are and how much fun you will be having together. The lesson doesn’t have to be science or math, try doing an activity that boosts moral in the classroom (diversity, community, respect, or anything from the core competencies). You can also add in small review work such as Mad Minute sheets, or short writing activities to begin taking inventory of what you students are capable of. 

These are some of the things that stood out as the most essential suggestions for how to structure your very first day in class.  I hope this helped you as much as it helped me! Next time I will posting about how to setup your classroom before your students even show up and different strategies for arranging the room. 

Below I have some links to great resources I found in my research. I will be keeping these for the day when I do have my own class. 🙂

– Ms. S


Tips for Beginning the School Year

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