The first day of school is one of the most exciting and stressful days of the entire year for teachers and students alike. One of the most important tasks that any teacher has is to make a good impression so that students can relax and look forward to the rest of the school year. As you begin thinking about that important first day, keep in mind that while your worries may be keeping you up at night, your students are also worried that they may not have a good teacher or even a good year.
Because it is so important that the first day of school be an encouraging experience for your students (and for you), you must present yourself to your students in as positive a manner as possible. This will be easy for you if you focus your energy on the following broad strategies.
Take Charge of Your Class
· Have a seating chart ready so that you can show students to their respective seats and get them started on their opening exercise at once. Have an assignment on the board or give students a handout as they enter the room.
· Before the term begins, when you have made up your introduction, class rules and expectations, consider having a friend record you presenting them. You can really have fun with this if you film your presentation at the beach, on a boat, or even in your own backyard. This would allow you to be creative and to make a polished presentation. When school starts, show the video and give your students a handout on the class expectations to fill in as they watch and listen. Showing a video instead of having to remember details on an already stressful day makes the day easier for you as well.
Calm Your Students’ Fears
· Stand at the door of your classroom and welcome students to your class. Wear a bright name tag. Make sure to prominently display your name and room number so that students and their parents or guardians can be sure that they are in the right place.
· Smile. Look glad to see every student. Greet each one pleasantly, using his or her name if you can.
· Teach your first lesson as if it is the most important lesson you will teach all year. In many ways, it is. Your students should feel not only that they learned something interesting but also that they will continue to learn something in your class every day.
Because you want the first day of class to go well, and because you want to control the amount of speculation about you, the new teacher, you should introduce yourself so that students can start to connect with you. While you should select the information from this list that would be most appropriate for your students, you can tell your students the following information:
· How to spell your last name
· Your title (Mr., Ms., Mrs., Dr.)
· Where you went to college
· Where you grew up
· Why you are looking forward to working with them
· The positive things you have heard about them
· The positive things you have heard about the school
· What your favorite subject was in school
· Why you chose to be a teacher
Engage Your Students’ Minds
· Design fast-paced, interesting instruction that will appeal to students with a variety of learning styles and engage their critical thinking skills. Solving puzzles, completing a challenge, quick writing assignments (if students can write), and other brief activities often work well.
· Consider a lesson that will allow you to assess your students’ readiness levels as well as give them an overview of the skills they will learn or the material they will cover during the term. Make sure that the lesson is one that encourages them to be active, and not just one that requires them to listen passively.
Begin to Teach Class Routines
· Teaching acceptable school behavior is part of what teachers do and is certainly part of what students expect from their teachers. For example, when it is time for students to turn in the day’s written assignment, take a minute to show them the procedure for passing in papers that you will expect them to follow all term.
· If students lack supplies to do the assignment, lend them what they need for class and gently remind them that they will need to have paper and a pencil in the future. Instead of harsh reprimands, stick to gentle reminders instead.