The first day of school sets the tone. If you come across as an old-school ogre, it’ll be Christmas before you’re kids will feel safe around you. So smile. Make a positive first impression. Build relationships. Start as you mean to go on.
Begin school on day one with your most engaging, well-crafted lesson. Include collaboration and movement and all the best practices you’ve read up on this summer. Wow the kids with your creativity, energy, and rigor. Yes, rigor. Start day one with the appropriate level of challenge, and your kids will love you. Keep them on their toes with their heads off their desks.
Do not start the year off by reading your syllabus item by item (unless your principal requires it). Just hit the high points. Worse, don’t read a page of classroom policies or the student handbook. “No outside food on campus. No tank tops. No fidget spinners.” Talk about building on a negative!
The first day should begin to put into practice your structures and procedures. The first day’s activities should let the students know the tenor and tone of your classroom.
If you hope to incorporate small-group work or centers in your classroom, Laura Randazzo has created a great first-day activity that I’m going to try with my tenth graders. It involves discussion and cooperative learning with writing — all important factors to include when easing away from a hot, lazy summer.
If you also want to embed music to appeal to multiple intelligences, I’m sharing a lesson for analyzing your personal walk-up music. This is suitable for grades 6-12.
Whatever activity you choose, keep a positive outlook and have an awesome year.