Planning the first day of school can be overwhelming for the teacher. With so much to tell the students, it can be hard to know where to start. The trick is to determine what is most important and blend that with ice breakers and fun activities designed to relax the students and help them become familiar with you and the classroom.
Students and Teacher
An immediate objective on the first day of school is to calm the nerves of your students and introduce yourself to them. Games designed to help your students get to know each other can break the ice. Or, pass out a "pop quiz" with true and false answers to questions about you, their teacher. This will help them get to know you and may spark some discussions about your teaching experience and why you became a teacher.
One of your first goals should be to go over the rules with your students. Don't bombard them with the rules right when they walk through the door, however. Start with an icebreaker to make the students feel more comfortable, then move into a discussion of the rules. Some teachers like to let the students have a say in developing the classroom rules. Others set their own rules which may be fairly inflexible. Some schools even have the same rules in each classroom for consistency. Discuss why rules are important. Talk about what the classroom environment feels like when students are following the rules (a safe place), and what it feels like when the students are not following the rules. Ask the students which environment is best for learning.
Familiarity with procedures is important for a smoothly running classroom. One of your objectives on the first day of school should be to introduce classroom procedures to your students. Think about what you want a typical school day to look like, then plan the procedures. Tell the students the procedures for daily activities, such as turning in homework, doing attendance and lunch count, going to the bathroom and lining up for recess. Practice these procedures, either as a whole class or with individual volunteers. Finally, your goal should be to make sure your students understand behavior policies, including what happens when the students choose to disobey.
Classroom, Curriculum and School
Another goal for the first day of school should be to help the students become familiar with the layout of the classroom and the school. They should also be introduced to the curriculum. Show the students around your classroom. Point out where they can look at books, where the pencil sharpeners are and where the computers, art supplies and other items are. Show them where they will keep their books, hang up their coats and store their backpacks. Take the students on a tour of the school as well. This is especially important if you have new students or if you have a class of students who have moved up to a new school. Finally, talk about the curriculum. Let them look through the textbooks they will be using during the upcoming year. Ask them what they would like to learn about and what they are looking forward to doing as a class this year.
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