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10 Things to Remember on the First Day of School

Janelle Cox

Whether it’s your 17th first day of school teaching, or it’s your first, there’s a really good chance that you will be a nervous wreck on the first day of school. Any new experience comes with a few jitters. But, it’s important to remember, it’s only the first day, and you have many more to come. Here are a few things to remember on the first day so you can take the day by storm.

1. First Day of School: Wake up Early

The last thing that you want to do on the first day of school is to wake up late. Set your alarm a few minutes earlier than you usually would, so that you can arrive to school a little bit early. This extra time will help you get anything, and everything ready before the students enter the classroom.

2. Have a Plan

Make sure that you are prepared for the day. It’s important that you have a plan that you can follow. Write down a general guideline of what you want to accomplish on the first day. It’s not necessary that you follow it to the “T,” but it will help you have an idea of what comes next.

3. Don’t Try to Do It All

There will probably be a whole lot that you want to accomplish on the first day of school, but it’s not necessary that you get to it all. Make sure that you prioritize, and set goals for your day. While it’s important that students learn the rules and routines, it’s not a priority that learn them all in one day.

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4. Get to Know Your Students

One of the most important things that you have to remember for the first day is to take the time to really get to know your students. This will show them that you care, and that you value them, and want to know all there is to know about them. By doing this on the first day, you are setting the tone for a wonderful caring classroom community for the whole year.

5. Keep it Short

Do not plan overly elaborate lessons or activities on the first day. Keep everything that you do short and sweet. Allow time for the students to talk too, not just you. By keeping things simple, you are not overwhelming students. And, by allowing them to talk, you are showing them that you value their thoughts and opinions.

6. Establish Classroom Rules

It's important to introduce your class rules on the first day of school. These rules will serve as a guideline for students to follow throughout the school year. Make sure that you have the rules posted in a visible spot in the classroom, so that students can reference them when needed.

7. Start the Day with Limited Expectations

It’s important to remember that your students didn’t have to sit still all summer! Do not expect them to be able to sit still for you all day without some fidgeting. Give them a few brain breaks throughout the day, and when you want them to remember something that you say that’s really important, have them repeat it after you at least three times.

8. Let them See You Laugh

Have a sense of humor, after all laughter has the power to help students learn.  It’s OK to laugh at yourself, and it’s OK to make students laugh. Laughter is a powerful tool to use in the classroom. It is also an effective way to keep your students engaged. If you want to win over your students on day one, then make them laugh!

9. Make the Day Fun

While laughter is another important component to remember on the first day of school, making the day fun would be the next. The first day should not just be teaching the rules and routines, it should be a day to get to know your students in a fun, and educational way. Play games, laugh, and go outside on the playground. Make a day to remember, so they will want to go home and tell their family how great school is and want to come back tomorrow.

10. Be Mindful, Take it All in, It’s Only the First Day

Take a moment to be in the moment. Don’t rush through your day just to get everything in your planner finished. Take it all in, and remember, it’s only the first day, you have about 179 days left to complete whatever else you want to do.

What else should be added to the list? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.