Hello darlings! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!! It’s BACK TO SCHOOL!!! I love meeting my new third graders each year! Yes, I won’t lie, I still love the carefree days of summer, but I also am incredibly passionate about teaching! One thing I am not passionate about however it WRITING out my lesson plans. Ugh! I know what I want to do, so why can’t I just do it? Well, luckily for you and “future me,” I am writing out my first day plans! You can grab my FREE lesson plan template and first two days of plans here.
My goal on the first day is to leave my students wanting more! I want them to be so excited and eager to run home and tell their parents all about the amazing and fun things we did! I want them to tell their parents new things they learned. And I want them to be EXCITED to get up and come to school the next day!
I don’t want my kids to be bored out of their minds learning rules and expectations and sitting in their seats all day. Just think back to that PD where instead of listening, you planned your grocery list and counted down the minutes until you could leave. Ugh!!
Keep them Active
These kids have just come off of summer break. Hopefully they have been playing, swimming, and have been keeping active. I guarantee you, they have NOT been sitting at a desk all summer. Please don’t think because you use your teacher voice that they are going to stay in their seats and be good little angels on the first day. They will if you make them, but please don’t make them. Don’t make them dread school when you have the power to make learning incredible!
My first day plans (and really the first week) incorporate a lot of movement. If you keep them active, they won’t have time to get into trouble and be off task. If you do a paper pencil activity, balance it out with an up out of your seat activity. Just keep some balance.
Always Over plan the First Week
I like to plan more than I need. That way I am never having to kill time or scramble for something to do. We often find our buses come late and leave late, so we are always scrambling with things to do. That means I am OVER PLANNING here. You will NOT get all of this done. With all of my plans, remember to take care of any particulars that your school expects such as…
1. Transportation Issues-How do your kids get home?
2. Lunch Count or Lunch Codes- Do your students need a special code for lunch?
Do you need to take a lunch count?
3. PBIS or School-wide rules- what rules does your school expect you to cover on the first day?
Ex. Lunch, Recess, and Hallway expectations
Practice Makes Perfect
Or I should say, Practice makes your life easier! I have not explicitly written out all of the expectations I will be teaching on the first day because you will do it naturally as you go. As you call kids to come sit on the carpet, you will tell them HOW you want them to come over. And they will practice. As they line up to take a bathroom break or go to Specials, you will be teaching them HOW to line up, etc. And they will practice.
All experienced teachers will tell you that consistency is key. Model and practice your expectations until they do it exactly as you want. A few kids are still talking when you line up? Everyone has to go sit back down and try again. Tommy didn’t put his materials away before coming to the carpet? Don’t call him out, just have everyone go back and check their desks. This will seem so tedious and you will want to move on and ignore the behaviors, but you are telling kids what you will ALLOW in your classroom. They are testing you right now to see “Does she mean what she says?” Follow through with your expectations and your class will run like a well oiled machine and you won’t have behavior issues.
The first week of school is what we call the “Honeymoon Period”. Your kids are on their best behavior right now. So if you are already having issues, it is only going to get much, much worse. Nip that in the bud right now. I like to think of myself as firm but fun. Because I am firm and mean what I say, we are able to have a TON of FUN in my room!
It’s also good to note that these plans are really in no particular order and can be switched around.
Morning Work:Bell Ringer
I greet my students at the door each day, Day 1 is no different. I greet them by asking their name and shaking their hand. I introduce myself and tell them to read the board and find their seat. (my kids come 2 days before school starts for Meet the Teacher Night. I let them pick a seat that night) On the board I have a message projected that welcomes them and tells them what to do. I tell them to hang their backpack on the backpack hooks and to complete the word search on their desk. the word search contains the names of all the kids in the class. You can make one free here.
I don’t stick to my schedule the first day. But I still have to write out my plans for the different subjects.
Now ask for students who think they can name all of their classmates. Give students turns to try. I am trying to memorize too. I take a turn. Then I close my eyes and have students move spots and see if I can still remember their names.
Decide how you want to get your students’ attention and practice it until it is perfect. Perfect meaning every kid freezes and looks directly at you and STAYS frozen until you are finished with the directions. TRUST ME! You need to practice procedures over and over and over until they get it right or else your year will be H. E. double hockey sticks!
I do this like a game with my kids. I compare last year’s class and I tell them, “Last year’s kids did awesome with our Signal but it took them a couple of tries to get it right. I can tell with this class that you guys are going to get it faster!” There is nothing wrong with a little competition! My signal changes throughout the year. You may be familiar with Whole Brain Teaching’s “Class?” “Yes!” or with Hope and Wade King’s “Shark bait!” “Hoo, Ha, Ha!”
Do what you think is fun and you don’t mind shouting out at recess or in the lunch room. LOL! For the first week I usually do something about being Back to School. I’ll say “Back to School!” and they reply “We’re so cool” and then they dab. Yep. We dab, peeps.
Call students to the carpet and talk to them about their dream classroom and dream classmates. Chart how they want the class to look, feel, sound. Next assign students a partner and have them create 2 rules on 2 different sticky notes. Call everyone back over and have each pair come up to share their rules and place the sticky note under the column they think it belongs in.
After that I bring out the Class Promise and I tell them how happy I am that they want to have the same kind of classroom that I want. Read and chant the class promise. Discuss what students think should happen if they break the class promise. [Get the Promise here]
**Behavior disclaimer** But what about those defiant, aggressive kids that could care less about positive reinforcement? Or the kids that have impulse control and blurt out constantly? Aren’t they losing all of their Oops Tickets? No. A behavior chart, Oops Tickets, missing recess, or calling those kids out in front of their peers is not going to be effective. For those students, I have individual behavior contracts. This is between me and that child so I discuss that behavior privately with the student. When you work with the student to reach a goal they form a trusting relationship with you.
I do not have students organize all of their supplies and notebooks on the first day. You need to determine where you want students to store supplies. We do a little the first day and then finish on day 2. This way we are able to get some learning in as well. To organize supplies on Day 1, I have students put all of their notebooks and folders in their desk. I collect their take home binder and their binder that we will use for our Data Binder. We will set those up later this week.
I have supply caddies that I got at Michaels out at desk groups. I have students store the supplies that we will use the most in the caddies. They place two sharpened pencils, scissors, a glue stick, and a dry erase marker into the caddie. The rest of their materials like crayons and markers, go into their supply boxes that they keep in their desk.
Science/Social Studies Block
I hope that was helpful for you! My biggest tip for you is to ENJOY your kids! Take time to get to know them and show you care, and your year will be amazing! You are going to make mistakes this year and it is WONDERFUL for your kids to see that and to see how you deal with it! Give yourself some grace and have a fantastic year!
Grab all the activity resources mentioned here!