Yes, that’s right! Get your hot tea ready, and your school night dinners planned out ahead of time – the first day of school is coming soon and that means there are procedures to teach, names to remember, and relationships to build!
There is just something about the energy that goes into the first day of school. Your students come into your classroom filled with different emotions and are unsure of what to expect from you and their classroom. The first day will fly by quickly, so use your time wisely!
Keep in mind, as the weeks progress, you can focus on other must-teach procedures and give each procedure more time and care. These ten essentials will help your students feel safe, informed, and able to handle the unexpected transitions of their first day.
1. Morning Greetings
How will you start each day? Begin on day one. A smile at the door, a handshake or a high five – set the tone for your week ahead!
Each child will need to use the bathroom at some point during the day. Make sure you address bathroom use at the start of the day including any specials areas and cafeteria restrooms they may need to know about.
3. Asking for Help
Some of your students may have no problem asking you for help on their first day, but this doesn’t include everyone! Help all of your students learn how to appropriately ask you for help and be approachable!
4. Lining Up
Within the first few hours of your day your students will more than likely need to line up and be ready to go to their next scheduled activity. Practice lining up ahead of time, and make a game out of it! No drill sergeant needed! Practice, and practice again.
5. Walking Through Campus
Each campus has varied expectations on hallway behavior and campus travel. After lining up, practice walking through a hallway or through the cafeteria using your campus expectations as your guide. Quiet? Whisper talking? Practice and praise! Make it fun and enjoyable. A walk through campus can be a great breather for you and your students.
6. Classroom Attention Getters
How will your students know that you need them to listen to your words? A classroom chant, or your go-to attention getter can be introduced and practiced throughout the first day. They will know that when they hear your chant or cue they stop, look, and listen carefully.
7. Lunch Time
Yes, we must practice for lunch time! I have been that teacher with the hungry littles running full speed to the cafeteria and then they are clueless about where to sit. Don’t make that mistake! Talk to your cafeteria manager and schedule a time before lunch to come and practice. Explain procedures for kids buying lunches and bringing lunches. Have them practice sitting down, lining up, and any other procedures your school follows for lunch time. You will be so thankful you practiced, and your kids will be less anxious!
8. Large group time
The first day of school is a great day to dive into get-to-know-you activities and large group activities to build community. You can focus on group work, partners, and independent work expectations later in the weeks to come. Make sure your kids know where large group is, how to join in, and what participating looks like.
9. When you are finished
Even on the first day there are a few assignments that we may have our students doing on their own. How do they know when they’re finished? What do they do when they’re done? Have a plan in place for them. Centers, book boxes, or simple hands-on activities are great things to have in your back pocket for the first day. This will save them the anxiety, and you the extra questions on your first day of school.
*Keep activities like this on hand for other times during the day as well. You may have a crier or a child who needs extra attention. Be prepared with class activities students can easily do without your hands-on help.
10. How to be a great friend
Yes, that’s right! Character lessons begin on the first day and continue throughout the entire school year. No matter the grade level, students need a refresher on how to treat their peers, how to befriend a new student, and what respect looks like in your classroom. Use a read aloud and a team building activity to introduce this concept and let the students take ownership!
Each of these ideas focuses on the essentials for a safe first day. Other expectations such as behavioral, classroom care, and working expectations will be essential to teach as well. Don’t rush it – model and practice often!
It is easy for us to assume the first day of school is over and our “teaching” time must now go to the curriculum. The first few weeks of school are essential to building a classroom that knows their expectations and can appropriately handle each transition.
Grab your coffee and get ready to rock your first day!