Teaching Tip Tuesday – First Day of School

My best advice for the first day of school is to plan, plan, plan, and over-plan. You should have your day structured so well that there will never be any lag time. You need to involve the students in some easy work right away, first thing in the morning.

I usually have them do an interest inventory. This is a simple get-to-know-you worksheet where the students won’t be intimidated since there are no wrong answers. It gives them a chance to share what’s important to them and, as such, you get a little glimpse into who each student is by reading these worksheets.

Here is the script (lesson plan) that I use on the first day of school. I have used it successfully for the past three years and I just modify it slightly for whatever grade I am teaching. I hope you will find it useful as well.

I like starting off the day by having hula-hoops in place of the student desks. This really shakes things up a bit and serves as a great discussion about personal space and school equipment. It even allows for team building by allowing the students to construct three-part Venn Diagrams.

Here is a brief excerpt of my lesson plan for the first day of school,

8:00 Set out hula-hoops with a sharpened pencil, and the first assignment Student Information Sheet in each hoop. Make sure that “Grade 3/4 Mr. March’s Class” is written on the door and the board.

9:00 Please quickly find the hula-hoop with your name, and when you sit down, you will find an activity there. I think you will enjoy doing it. Please begin working on it right away. Thank you.

Any student who does not come in the room correctly, ask them calmly but firmly to return to the door, tell them why, give specific direction, and acknowledge that they understand

I am sorry, but that is not the way you enter the classroom everyday. When you enter this classroom, you walk in quietly, go directly to your seat, and get to work immediately on the assignment that is posted. Are there any questions? Thank you, _______. Now show me that you can go to you seat properly.

Make it routine on how to enter the room and reinforce it everyday.

9:10 Introduce “Give Me 5” and refer to the poster.

Students, I have a procedure when I want your undivided attention. You will see me stand here with my hand up. I will count up to five. When you see me counting or hear me, you will count up to five as well. If you didn’t see me, you will be able to hear your classmates and then we will follow this procedure:

1. Freeze
2. Turn and face me; pay attention and keep your eyes on me
3. Be ready for instructions. I will have something to say

Please note the “We Listen” poster

1. Eyes on the speaker
2. Mouth quiet
3. Hands Free
4. Feet still
5. Ears listening.

Tell the class that they have 5 minutes left to finish the assignment. If they have already finished they may draw a picture relating to one of the questions on the back of the sheet.

9:15 Ask the class to “Give Me 5” and then praise them if the do it well. If not, reinforce how it works and why. This is not the time to sharpen a pencil, keep writing, or talk. All eyes must be on me. No exceptions. Thank you.

As you can see, I structure my day so that there is no time left to lag. This sets up the expectation that school time is important and that it will be used efficiently each and every day. Also, keeping up a good pace lets the students stay focused and doesn’t give them the opportunity to goof around.

If you would like The First Day Grid mentioned in the above plan, you can find it here.

So my first day planner is extremely detailed. See the entire lesson plan here. My day plans each and every day after that are sufficiently detailed as well. You can see an example here.

Well, I hope this has helped. If you are a brand new teacher this year, you might want to check My New Teacher Guide. My other teaching tips are listed on the sidebar for easy navigation as well.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, or would like to write a guest post for Teaching Tip Tuesdays, please leave me a comment below, send me an email, or get at me on Twitter. Teachers helping teachers is what it is all about.

2 responses to “Teaching Tip Tuesday – First Day of School”

  1. I think teachers should share with each other. That has always been my goal with this series. Thanks for leaving a few comments today!