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3 Tips for a Successful First Day of School

Pick up three tips on how to have a successful first day of school from education consultant Grace Dearborn in this Howcast video.


Tips for a successful first day of school. First, have a seating chart. Assign the seats, have it projected when the kids come in so that they know exactly where to go. Kids are nervous on the first day of school, as well are teachers, and some of those nerves can be taken care of if they know exactly where to go. And then have something at their seat that they can begin on right away, an activity or a coloring or a prompt to write about, something so that they have something to keep their hands and minds busy while the rest of the class comes in and gets settled and gets ready for you to introduce yourself and tell them what they're going to be up to next.

Also, you want to be prepared to cover some content the first day. You can't have your whole first day of school be just getting-to-know-you activities and things like that. They're going to be, in secondary if you're teaching middle or high school, they're going to be doing getting-to-know-you activities probably in every period of the day. You can't do that all day, every period of the day, so plan to have some actual content for them to work with. In elementary, obviously, you have to because you've got them all day. You can't spend six hours on getting to know you. With the content, though, plan something for the first day and the first week of school that maybe isn't essential to the rest of what you're going to do starting in the second week, because you're going to have kids coming out of your class and moving into your class as the school tries to balance the numbers of students in each classroom. And you want to keep in mind that if you're covering key content the first week, if a student adds your class four days later, then they're going to be lost inside of that. So you want to have content but maybe something that's related to a content area you're teaching, but isn't the key content, or isn't something they necessarily need in order to build forward.

Last, I would say that you want to cover a couple of key procedures. First day procedures that are really key to cover, practice, teach, reinforce might be your beginning routine, how the kids come in and get ready, or a quiet signal, how you get their attention and bring them back to quiet so that you can give more instructions. You may find that on the first day of school you need to teach the how-to-go-to-the-bathroom procedure. What is it that you want from them? How do they ask to go? What are the rules around going to the bathroom? Because it may come up. So have a couple of those ready to teach on the first day of school, and that will make it the best first day you can have.

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