First impressions on the first day of school are important. Teachers prepare during the summer for the next school year with specific emphasis on the first day of school. This school year will be unique for everyone, and there are many uncertainties associated with the current state of education during this challenging time. As countless educators still do not know what school will look like this year, there are many factors that remain constant. Building relationships and exhibiting trust, having positive and clear expectations, and modeling empathy and compassion are effective goals for teachers for the first day of school.

Welcome Your Students

School may be part-time, full-time, or fully online this fall. Everyone involved in this process is preparing for a myriad of circumstances while striving to be as effective as possible. Teachers’ roles are essential in the first-day-of-school experience. The most important element on the first day of school is to be warm and embracing to your students. It is best to create opportunities to get to know the students and their families and for the students to get to know each other. Teachers need to know any challenges the families may be facing during these unprecedented times. Family situations put everything in perspective when getting to know your students. Teachers’ genuine interest for students will be what they remember and need.

Your Introduction

Teachers need to prepare an introduction of themselves to allow students and families to get to know them. An example of this would be to type an introductory letter or video including personal information, experience, and expectations. On the first day, teachers are often as nervous as the students. It is great to incorporate icebreakers and creative ways to get to know each other. The first day of school sets the tone for the rest of the school year.

Get Things Ready Prior to the First Day

It is best to have the classroom and/or online platform ready prior to the first day of school. The traditional or online classroom should be organized, and present clear expectations. Classroom management encompasses many facets in the classroom and must be a top priority. Expectations, procedures, rules, and consequences should be clearly stated on the first day, whether online or in person. Any applicable paperwork or online forms should be ready for parents to complete. Planning and preparation are keys to success on the first day of school and throughout the school year.

Classroom Environment

Classrooms should be appealing to students, and displaying their names throughout the classroom or online program promotes ownership. Students love to see their names on display. Teachers often use color schemes and various décor to set a theme for the classroom. The classroom should be warm and inviting. The classroom design must be organized and set up precisely as there are many guidelines in place for the first day of school this year. Most importantly, students want to feel comfortable, and parents want to know their children are in a safe and nurturing environment.

Be Extra Prepared

Morning warm-ups, pre-assessments, journals, or grade-level assignments are great resources to have readily available. It is always best to prepare extra teaching materials to flow from one activity to the next. First day activities include involving students in the learning process on the first day. Teachers in today’s classrooms facilitate learning opportunities, and it is best to implement and model this strategy at the beginning of the year.

Rely on Fellow Teachers

Last, teachers need each other. It is more important now than ever for teachers to support each other. Ideas include visiting other teachers’ classrooms to gain ideas and perspective or researching ideas online from fellow teachers. Other teachers are often the most important resource in preparing for success in the classroom. Their experience and expertise are invaluable. Some teachers feel more at ease in the traditional classroom, and others are stronger teaching online. The first day of school this year will be a learning experience for everyone, and it is important to know that everyone is in this together.

As the first day of school quickly approaches, teachers must take care of themselves so they can be the best for the students. There are many factors that set the stage for the first day, and teachers’ roles are significant in this process.