Thursday, August 7, 2014

6 Tips for a Great First Day of School

The first day of school is extremely important when you are a secondary teacher. The key to having a successful day is to plan plan plan!

Here are my tips for surviving the first day of school: 

 Dress professionally, and greet each student with eye to eye contact as they walk into your classroom. That first introduction can set the tone for the type of relationship you will have with your students for the entire year. Start the year right by doing what you can to acknowledge each student. It only takes a few seconds to introduce yourself and make sure they know you are excited to have them in your class.

 Have assigned seats from day 1! It's tempting to allow students to choose their own seats (after all they are almost adults!) but allowing this gives students control rather than establishing that you are in control. Be in control from the second students walk into your classroom - assign seats!

 Start the first day of school the way you plan to start every other day. Get students comfortable with your classroom routine ASAP. I always use bell rings, so the second students walk in the door there are instructions on the board telling students to pick up the bell ringer paper and complete it. Consistency is key!

 Spend no more than 15 minutes explaining your expectations for the year. The average person stops listening to something within 15 minutes. Your expectations are important for students to hear and understand. Find a way to share your expectations quickly and efficiently. Creating a simple PowerPoint show is an easy way to share!

 Show students that you are human! Create a poster board all about you to share with students or post some pictures of your favorite things on the bulletin board. Share something interesting with them. I had a teacher friend who was really sweet and motherly. Every year she shows her students a picture of her on a motorcycle with her husband, wearing leather. Students are always surprised by the picture and excited about it. I always hear "did you know Mrs. S rides motorcycles?!?!" Showing the picture is a way she bonds with her students.

 Have a discipline plan prepared that is easy to enforce. Students should know that if they do *insert offense 1 here* they will have to stay after school for detention the following day. Let them know there are consequences they will have to face if they choose to disobey your rules. Remember - you are in charge!

Make sure that you do not just have a discipline plan for behavior problems. Plan out what the consequences will be for students who do not complete the work you assign them.

Check out Monday's post to learn about how I keep track of students who do not complete school work. ******Spoiler alert: I use this chart:  ******

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