For A Successful School Year- First Day Musts

first day of school

The start of the 2021-2022 school year is rapidly approaching and it is time to start thinking about the first-day musts. Especially since we didn’t exactly start last school year how we normally do.

It’s still uncertain what we will be continuing from school years pre-pandemic and what we will keep from pandemic teaching, but I figured that best practice would be to do what has always worked for me.

A teacher friend asked me to share my must-do’s with her, so I figured I’d share #ontheblog as well.

Here are my new school year, first day musts:

Meet the Teacher

Last year’s meet the teacher was hosted virtually and it was just as effective as the in-person version. 

Ask your administrators what version of meet the teacher you will be doing this year. 

During the designated time, greet parents and share the ways that you will communicate throughout the year. Ask them specifically if the information given to the school during registration is most current, what ways do they prefer communication, and ask for an alternative number.

As a teacher,  it is important to communicate effectively and consistently. Choosing one method that works for the majority of your parents is ideal. We know, however, that one size does not fit all, so be prepared to copy and paste.

For example, in years past the majority of my parents opted for communicating via Remind. Some did not like the text messages, so when I sent out information, I simply copied and pasted it into skyward( our district emailing, grading/ records system). 

Meet the teacher is also the perfect time to discuss your classroom expectations, share your teaching style, and discuss the ways that you will need parents to support you throughout the school year. 

Okay, now that the adults are on their way let’s talk about the first day of school things.

Meet the Kids

As teachers, we all know the saying that if we fail to plan, we gone be stressed. ( Or however, it goes).

Knowing this I always outline my day. 

Create & Share the Agenda 

A typical first day in my classroom starts with me greeting my new class and sharing the day’s agenda with them.

Most kids are either nervous or super excited to be back in school with all of their friends. It’s a new year in a new grade with a new teacher and they typically do not know what to expect. Giving them a rundown of the day helps. 

Knowing what events and activities are to come helps with classroom management, transitions, and staying on track with time. It is most effective in the upper grades with kids that can tell time, but also effective with small kids. If you tell them, please believe me they won’t forget and will remind you of what you said.

Day one is also a great time to start the routine of having students write the plans for the day, objectives, and homework ( readings) in their student agendas. 

Introduce yourself

Class culture and community is crucial, so I love to start by sharing a little about myself with my kids. 

I typically do some sort of presentation, but getting creative makes it more fun.

You could write a rap and perform. Create a cloze read and have them fill in the blanks as they listen to a story about you. Creating a scavenger hunt around the room or in your hall could be so much fun as well. As they find the hidden treasures they discover where you went to college or your spouse’s name or how old you are, etc.

Have fun with this. 

Kagan Activity 

It’s only natural that after learning all about their new teacher, students will want a chance to share about themselves. To give their sharing structure and to ensure that everyone shares, I would suggest a kagan activity.

Either a mix- pair- share or a stand-up- hand up- pair-up with rally robin would be great. This way students are up, out of their seats moving and doing what they love–TALKING.

As they share, you walk around, monitor, listen, and jot down questions. 

  • I would give students the task of sharing two pieces of information that they learned about two classmates that they did not already know. 

All grades will enjoy this!

Next on the agenda is classroom business.

Sort and Store Supplies

first day of school supplies

 Last year community supplies were canceled. That may still be the case this year, so labeling, sorting, and storing supplies in a way that will make reaching for new glue or pencils easy is important. 

First, have all students pack their pencil box or bag with 2-3 pencils, an eraser, a glue or glue stick, 1 pack of coloring tools of their choice( crayon, markers, or colored pencils), a red and/or blue pen, a highlighter, and a personal pencil sharpener.

Now to store the excess.

Hopefully, your classroom has adequate storage. What I would suggest is buying bins that will fit in whatever type of space you have and dump the extra labeled supplies into the bins. When a student needs a new pack of crayons, simply look in the bin for the extra labeled box. 

Go Over Your Rules

I have 3 personal classroom rules.

They are to be respectful,  reasonable, and responsible.

Being respectful means being mindful of the words students choose to use in and out of the classroom. Following our school essentials. Asking for what they want, being kind and considerate of others.

I typically ask students what a happy and safe classroom consists of and we draw up a class constitution and all sign it. This way they come up with it and buy-in. 

Being reasonable means thinking before doing or saying, weighing the consequences of their actions before acting, and practicing using common sense.

Being responsible means taking care of the business of school. Showing up, doing their best, communicating when they need help or don’t understand, are having a bad day, or notice friends making poor choices and choosing to no follow suit. 

Discuss and Practice Classroom Procedures 

On the first day and throughout the first week, I explain and model everything!!

  • how to enter the school building and the classroom in the mornings
  • how to unpack
  • where to hang lunches, backpacks, jackets, and devices
  • what to do while waiting for announcements
  • when to sharpen pencils
  • how papers will be collected
  • how to exit the classroom 
  • We cant have expectations that we have not made them aware of. 

 Discuss School Norms

In our district, we’ve adopted Ron Clark’s essentials. Only we don’t have as many.

Discussing our school essentials and role-playing is crucial to teaching and modeling for scholars how they should interact with their peers and adults on campus. It teaches healthy communication habits and conflict resolution.

So I set aside a portion of our day to go over 2 essentials a day for the first week of school. 

Our Essentials:

1 Respond appropriately to adults.

2 Make eye contact when someone is speaking.

3 Respect others’ comments, opinions, and ideas.

4 Always say thank you when given something.

5 Follow the specific campus protocols,

even when there is a guest teacher.

6 Stand to answer all questions with a

complete sentence. Agree and disagree with

each other respectfully.

7 If anyone is bullying you, let an adult know.

8 Show respect with gestures or words.

9 Learn from your mistakes and move on.

10 Be the best person you can be.

I model what each of these actions looks and sounds like. Then I create or let the kids come up with made-up scenarios and we role-play and discuss if the essentials were followed or not and what could have or should have been done differently. 

Time is Education

Making every minute count is also crucial especially since the truth is all scholars are behind because of the pandemic. This is why having and enforcing hallway, cafeteria, and restroom procedures is a must.

We waste a lot of time transitioning and moving throughout the school building. But if scholars understand the benefit of getting where they need to be and have clear procedures and transitions in the halls, cafeteria, and restrooms won’t take minutes from instruction. 

So please:

  1. Establish line order, how to stand and line up to leave the room and how to return
  1. Practice transitions from the whole group to stations
  2. restroom procedures ( go, flush, wash, leave),
  3.  lining up for lunch, leaving lunch, dismissal, etc

Overview of Content

Kids will be eager to know how hard the work in their new grade will be, what to expect and if they will be able to keep up. 

Ease their nerves by sharing what curriculum you all will use, the types of stories you will read( can you tell reading is my thing), and some example assignments and projects. 

You do not have to or need to go too in-depth here. Just give them an idea of what to expect and let them know that you will be there to help them along the way.

Kagan Activity 

I love Kagan’s silly sports and goofy games. Do at least 2 of these throughout the day in between some of the other things you have planned.

I hope that this blog post was helpful. The first day and often the first week of school will fly by and you won’t feel like you did enough or had enough time. If you show up and do your best, that is all that matters. 

I am in no way the perfect teacher. I believe in community and mentorship. If I can help you leave a comment or send me an email. And if you have some first-day musts that work for you, please share them below.

Side note: All that I said above can be done in whatever order works best for you. 

Have a great school year.

Happy Teaching!