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10 Tips for the First Day of School

10 Tips for the First Day of School

For teachers, there’s no day like the first day of the school year. Veterans and rookies alike are just the right mixture of nervous and excited. So are students.

With some planning, common sense, and communication, you can make the first day of school the best it can be—a springboard to a successful and rewarding school year. Here’s how to make that happen:

1. Greet every student warmly. 

Say 'hello' to everyone at your door and offer a handshake and at least an attempt to catch students’ names. You won’t remember all of them, but hearing them pronounced can help save you and students from any embarrassing gaffes when you’re taking attendance later. Here are eight more reasons why greeting your students is an awesome way to kick-start the day!

2. Use a seating chart, at least for the first week or so.

It will make it much easier for you to learn names, especially if you sort the seating alphabetically by first name.

3. Save the rules for the second day.

Students know how to generally behave in a classroom, and incidents on the first day are rare, so the time is much better spent on building relationships.

4. Don’t be afraid to share something about yourself.

Students are interested in the new person they will be spending nine months with, so prepare a short biographical talk. They are particularly interested in whether you have children and pets. Pictures earn bonus points.

5. Post the daily schedule as prominently as possible.

Even if students have previously attended the school, the summer break is a difficult transition. They often get confused about timing. Making a poster will save you a lot of “When do we…?” questions. You can also hand out blank student organizers, and have your class fill-in and walk-through your class schedule together, so they have a copy handy at thier desk.

6. Explain the space.

Familiarize students with how your room is organized, especially if they are bringing supplies with them or need to store things overnight.

7. Find a good ice-breaking activity.

Preferably, one that avoids making students share things with the whole group on the first day. Check out a few of our favorites here!

8. Ask for students to notify you of any exceptionalities.

You want to know as soon as possible if students have trouble with hearing or vision so that you can better plan lessons.

9. Expect the unexpected.

First days rarely go according to plan. You may have to work around schedule changes and general confusion.

10. Plan the second day.

Teachers often spend so much effort making sure that the first day of school is perfect that they forget to lay out the expectations for the rest of the week.

Even the most jaded teacher can get caught up in the excitement of the first day of school. Do your best to carry that infectious energy throughout the year.

Looking for more back-to-school classroom management advice? Check out these back-to-school read-alouds to teach classroom rules and expectations!

This post was originally published August 2018 and has been updated.