Sometimes we, as teachers, are so excited, nervous and filled with anticipation that everything goes “just right” that sometimes we lose what I feel is the most important goal for day one: Does every single student feel loved and appreciated enough to want to come back the next day?
Years ago, I made this my number one priority for day one. What about lesson plans? I didn't keep any for that first day. I simply created a list of the essential items that need to be discussed or completed.
- Fire drill procedures
- Transportation details
- Bathroom procedures
I found a way to make my life a little easier by doing a few simple things. First, I found that each student came in with a million school supplies. Some students have their supplies labeled, but most do not. My solution was to grab gigantic, sealable plastic bags (already labeled with each student’s name) and dump all supplies into them. Then I gather them all and put to the side for another day. I allowed my students to use my supplies on day one.
Most students have stories they want to tell you. Let them. This is how you are going to be able to achieve the goal of having them want to come back the next day. So, how are you going to have time for this? Have students create an “All about Me” poster. I had my students partner up for this activity. Once they created the poster, they would share with their partner, and then, if they wanted to, they could share it with the class. Not all students want to share aloud. So, keeping my number one goal in mind, I didn't make them. I did, however, take the time to ask each student questions about his/her poster.
Finally, the first day should be fun. Fun? Yes, fun. One of the fun activities that I loved was our snowball fight. Students filled out a simple questionnaire and then crumpled up the paper to make a snowball. They were always puzzled and confused about why they had to crumple up their paper. I would them tell them that I had a big secret. We are going to have a little fun, but that they had to keep that a secret or other people might get jealous! Then, I would throw the first snowball high into the air and yell “Snowball fight!” It was pandemonium, but so fun. Then, I would blow a whistle and the students had to race to pick up the nearest snowball and read the questionnaire aloud to the class. We would have a blast learning a little bit about each other.
Enjoy the first day of school and remember to make sure your students are happy enough to want to return for day two. Then, you can hit them with all of the rules and procedures. :)