You’ve finished your student teaching and you’ve landed that long sought after job. But the first day of school is almost here (if it hasn’t arrived already), and you’re beginning to feel a little nervous. What do you do to prepare for the first day and ease your nerves? First, be assured that having some butterflies is totally normal. Even veteran teachers experience first-day jitters! Next, read our tips to help make your first day a little less nerve-racking.
The first day of school can be a little chaotic. For example, you may arrive to find that the parking lot is almost full and that you’re going to have to walk further than you anticipated. To ease your mind, anticipate delays. You will also want to leave yourself time to sign in at the office and read any communication that might be distributed. In some districts, administration may share important information (like a planned fire drill for second period) when you arrive on the first day. Leave yourself time to read all written communications, including emails, so you’re fully prepared.
Know How to Evacuate your Classroom
Ideally, you learned this during your summer in-service sessions, but if you didn’t, look for a map on how to evacuate your classroom in case of an emergency. You can never be sure when there will be an emergency, and you are the one in charge. Be sure that you know the route and the proper emergency procedures. Check with your mentor or your next-door colleague if you have questions.
Come ready with a list of your students’ names. If you are teaching elementary school, place name plates on the desks for a quick and easy way to learn your students’ names. If you are teaching an upper grade, have a seating chart designed so that you can seat students and learn their names quickly.
Prepare an Introduction
Just as you want to know your students, they will want to know about you. Prepare and practice an introduction that will tell students something about you. Make it interesting! This is a great opportunity to connect with your students and to get them engaged and comfortable asking questions.
Plan an Icebreaker Activity
Icebreakers are great for engaging students, learning about their interests, and getting them to work together. A scavenger hunt, an art activity, or a getting-to-know-you bingo game can all be great activities. You can also have students make a list of likes and dislikes. Take a picture of each student with your smart phone, digital camera, or computer camera, and have them each attach it to their list. Hang these up in your classroom to showcase your students’ interests. This will also help you learn their names.
Establish Classroom Rules
Talk to your students about the kind of classroom you want to have (e.g., fun, respectful, motivated, and hard working). Then, work together as a class to create a list of classroom rules. You’ll be surprised to find that students will often make rules that are much harsher than your own!
This is the most important tip for the first day of school. You will be giving out supplies, learning many new names, and answering a lot of questions, so it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Be sure to take your assigned lunchtime to chat with your new colleagues and learn their survival tips and tricks. But most of all, enjoy your students! Know that you may not get everything done that you planned for the first day, but that’s okay! Tomorrow is another day… your second day, and that alone will make it easier!
Best of luck on your first day of teaching!