education coffee break

10 Tips for the 1st Day of School

These 10 easy to follow tips for the 1st day of school will help make your 1st day fun for your students and help build a classroom community of learners!

1. Introduce yourself

On the first day of school many of your students are as nervous and excited about the 1st day of school as you. During the 1st day of school and week I like to introduce myself and build the classroom community. I enjoy sharing with my students about my life and family. Opening up to my students and sharing about my favorite activities, my pet, and my family allows my students to get to know me better and make connections to their own life.

2. Set routines

The 1st day of school is extremely important when setting up your routines and procedures. For younger students you might need to work on teaching the routine throughout the 1st week of school. No matter how many routines you decided to teach each day, students need to practice those routines throughout the week in order to learn what your teacher expectations are and how your classroom will run. On the 1st day of school I let my students come in, find their desks, and talk with friends while I greet each student personally at the door. After everyone arrives I model how I want my students to arrive in the morning. This includes every small detail from where they should hang their backpacks to where papers from home should be placed. Then we all grab our backpacks and walk back to the entrance door and practice the procedure together.

3. Set Rules

Setting rules is an important 1st day of school task. If these rules are not set from the 1st day of school, students will not know your expectations and your classroom behaviors can get difficult fast. Most schools have their own rules students must know. Instead of just reading and lecturing students on our four school rules, I have my students create their own list of rules. Then I group these student created rules into the four school rules. Students have already listed examples of the four board rules so there is no need to waste time lecturing about school rules and behaviors.

4. Practice, Practice, Practice

When setting up rules and procedures on the 1st day of school, the most important element is practice, practice, practice. Young students need to practice the routines, procedures, and rules to insure they understand them and can follow the directions. Teacher modeling is very important. Students benefit from teacher modeling correct and incorrect behaviors. You never want your student modeling the incorrect ways. Students should always model the correct way of following rules and procedures, but it is helpful for them to see and discriminate between the correct and incorrect ways.

5. Classroom Tour/ School tour

1st Day of School In the morning of the 1st day of school, after the procedure of arriving is modeled and practiced, I give my students a tour of the classroom setup. I show them the different areas for centers. I try not to overwhelm them with little details, but I will show them places to find everyday materials, classroom library, small group tables and other important places. Then we take a tour of our school and places they will visit. This helps students feel more comfortable about their 1st day of school especially if they are new to the school or nervous about the first day.

6. Classroom Community

Building a classroom community is important to a successful year! A positive classroom community should established the 1st day of school. Students should begin to feel comfortable, loved, and cared for in your classroom. They should feel that they can ask questions and take risks. They should begin to build relationships and friendships with others. More ideas for building a classroom community will follow in an upcoming blog.

7. Getting to Know You games and activities

What do you do on the 1st day of school? I do very little if any curriculum or content teaching. One the 1st day of school I try to incorporate many getting to know you games and activities. I find it very important that students begin to build a classroom community. During these games, students need to practice addressing each other with their names, finding common interests with peers, and learn new things about their friends. 1st Day of School

8. Crafts

Crafts are a fun way to engage students during the 1st day of school or even 1st week of school. These crafts are a fun way to let students see the fun in learning. I want them to love school. Also, crafts allows students to begin talking and making peer connections and friendships. They are not just asking each other for materials for their project, but they are chatting about different things. This is the perfect time to allow students to opportunity to make friends with their classmates. In my teacher eyes, crafts during the 1st day of school allow me to quickly see any red flags. Are their students who struggle with cutting, gluing or holding a pencil? Following multiple step directions? Social interactions? These fun activities give me the opportunity to notice any problems in gross or fine motor, social, or behavior that I might need to address.

9. Setting goals

During the 1st day of school I like to incorporate a craft or activity that allows students to set goals. Setting goals in the classroom holds students accountable for their work and behaviors. This can be as easy as completing a craft that says what do you want to work on this school year or what do you want to learn. Many times I have my students pick a rule they want to become a “model” for. They are setting their goal for their work and behaviors. As the school year continues, these goals can be set in more subject area content.

10. Have fun!

The 1st day of school only happens once each year! Don’t forget to enjoy it and your new students!

Next Steps

Please check back on the blog for more information on the 1st day of school.
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