The first day of school brings with it a wide range of emotions for all teachers, but especially a new teacher. No matter how much time you’ve spent student teaching and substitute teaching, nothing fully prepares you for the first day in your own classroom. But it is definitely possible to plan for a successful first day of school!
If you have taken the time to carefully prepare your classroom for the first day of school, then you are ready to think about activities for the first day. Here are some simple steps that will increase the likelihood of enjoying not only a smoother first day of school, but a smoother day every day!
Write Everything Down
Although many things will become automatic in the months and years to come, the first week of teaching is not the time to fly by the seat of your pants. Write everything down.
Make detailed lists of what you need to do. Since you have no way of knowing what your students will be like, don’t leave anything to chance. If it is written down, you can’t forget it.
Create Detailed Lesson Plans
Lesson plans should be written in detail, including all of the necessary supplies, books, handouts, etc. Write down the important questions that go with the lesson. Have in mind ways you can quickly expand the lesson if it is too simple for your class. Think through how you will salvage the lesson if it is too hard.
Although teachers always need to be prepared for adapting lessons on the fly, this is even more important as you are getting to know your students at the beginning of the year and you haven’t had time to fully assess their abilities.
Overplan for Each Day
It is absolutely necessary to overplan during the first week of school. Again, since you don’t fully know what to expect of your students at this point, you can’t accurately gauge how long any particular activity might last. Even if you used the same activity during student teaching, it will not play out the same way with a different set of students.
Overplan for the day with the idea that if you don’t get to something you’ve planned, you can move it forward to the next day. It is much easier to move something forward than scramble to find something else for the students to do at the last minute while they are all watching you.
Keep a folder on your desk that contains quick activities you can add whenever you have more time than plans. Here are some fun learning activities I’ve created that you can keep printed and ready to go.
Mentally Walk Through the Day
Sit down the night before and/or the morning of the first day of school and walk step-by-step through your plans. How will you distribute materials? Do you have everything you need and is it carefully organized? Don’t assume anything!
Think through each step and what you will say and how you will act. By doing this, it will feel familiar when you are actually in the midst of it with the students.
If you are very nervous about the first day, script out everything. Read over it out loud many times. The more you hear yourself saying the words out loud, the more comfortable you will become.
Arrive at School Early
Arriving early every day is one of the keys to a successful first year of teaching. Take the time to walk through the day, check all of your materials, etc. Then take a few minutes and sit down by yourself and do something that will encourage and inspire you. Read a book that you find meaningful, listen to music, write in a journal, or ponder the quote on your daily teacher calendar. Whatever it is, take five minutes to relax and focus on what is ahead.
Please check out the other posts I’ve written in this series to help and encourage new teachers!
And don’t forget to check out some of the products I’ve created that I wish I would have had when I started teaching!