Yes, I know it is July but it never hurts to get your mind wandering back to the classroom! That first day is so magical and exciting! It really sets the tone for the year. 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 to get them pumped up to come back!
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. I can’t be the only one right?! Ugh!! Let’s dig into some tips to really transform the first day of school!
1. Stay Active
Kids have just come off of summer break. Hopefully they have been playing, swimming, and keeping active. I guarantee you, they have NOT been sitting at a desk all summer. No matter how hard you try, it just isn’t natural (or fair) to keep them in a single chair most of the day. You have to ease them in!
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. It is allllll about balance my friends!!
2. Always Over Plan Week 1
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. Overplanning removes the stress and gives us a plan B, C, D, even E! You will not get all of this done and that is ok- it isn’t the intent. With all of my plans, I remember to take care of any particulars that your school expects such as…
- Transportation Issues-How do your kids get home?
- Lunch Count or Lunch Codes- Do your students need a special code for lunch? Do you need to take a lunch count?
- PBIS or School-wide rules- what rules does your school expect you to cover on the first day? Ex. Lunch, Recess, and Hallway expectations
3. Practice Makes Perfect
Well, maybe not perfect but it surely makes it easier! I don’t directly write out every detail because that is not how kids learn and it is quite a mess that clutters the walls. Instead, I give them opportunities to practice. As I call kids to come sit on the carpet, I will tell them HOW I want them to come over. And they will practice. As they line up to take a bathroom break or go to Specials, I will be teaching them HOW to line up, etc. And they will practice. This is way more successful!
All experienced teachers will tell you that consistency is key. By modeling and practicing 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!
So what do you say? You ready to get back?! Before you go, check out my class promise!
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