First Day of School Ideas

As the first day of school approaches, I thought it would be nice to share some tips for the first day of school.  I’ll share some tips that I have, but I also asked around and will share some tips from friends around the internet!

Need some tips for the first day of school?  These back to school tips from experienced teachers will help you get your middle and high school classroom of to a good start!

Tips for the First Day of School

Greet the kids! Just like them I am that crazy combination of nervous and excited, and I just can't wait for the year to begin!

I love to get know my students, we all take turns telling each other what we did during the summer.  I love to play music in my class, and play games like silent ball!

Wear comfortable shoes!  You likely haven't been on your feet as much over the summer as you will be on the first day of school.
Mrs. E Teaches Math

I like to play the game "2 Truths and a Lie."  Everyone tells three things about themselves, one of which is made up.  The tale-teller gets a point if no one guesses the lie accurately, the guessers get a point if they manage to identify the lie.  I always go first with three interesting stories, so everyone doesn't just do boring stuff like "I like green. I like red. I like orange." 

I always skip the syllabus on day one and do a crafty get-to-know you activity such as a collage or artifact speech.  It breaks the ice, sets the tone, and is way more interesting than a lot of things they do in other classes.  My AP Lit kids get reading homework :)

My favorite thing to do on the first day of school is memorize my students' names while they are working on a short "All About Me" activity. When the whole class has finished the assignment, I stand at the front of the class and identify each student by name before asking any of my students if they want to try. Some of my students are freaked out by the fact that I am able to learn their names so quickly, but it really sets the foundation for building a sense of community in my classes. 

I give a small homework assignment on the first day, worth only a few points.  I think it sets the tone for my class and lets them know that we are there to work.
Mrs. E Teaches Math

In the classroom my class always makes a little version of themselves then we hang them up for rest of the year that way they know they are part of the class from day one. 
I always plan an outfit that goes with my room theme for the first day. 
We also have take out to make it a little easier on everyone at home. 

I explain to my students there is only 1 rule in my classroom, which is to respect yourself and others. Together in each class, we fill out a graphic organizer discussing examples and non examples of what this looks like. It really helps set up expectations for the year in the classroom. 

Play music: I like to set the tone and energy for the year. Begin by building good will and relationships so you will have the foundation you need to push your students to their very best.

I always give assigned seats on the first day.  It helps students know what to expect and sets the tone for the class.  
Mrs. E Teaches Math

Play a variety of team and class building games to start building our classroom community!

I love to spend most of that session getting to know students and surveying their multiple intelligences to create an interest inventory. Then I connect their interests to the course content in tangible ways that ensure they get more from my classes. 

...the name game!  The first person states his name and one thing he loves, the second person repeats that and adds her name and one thing she loves...  With a sharp class, you can ask everyone to change their seats (after the first full round) and see who volunteers to name everyone.

My favourite thing is to meet my new students.  It's always a little stressful, but it's also a real high.  I love my summers, but I'm always anxious to get back with the kids.

I like to stand in the doorway and greet each student as they walk in my classroom.  I usually shake each student's hand and introduce myself.  I feel like it shows them respect and helps some of the kids feel a little more relaxed.
Mrs. E Teaches math

I always give my students this Student Interest Survey, which can be downloaded for free here.  This tells me what their interests are, what they don't like, or don't feel like they do well, etc.

I get up and go for a run before school. This is probably the only time that will happen all year! It gives me a chance to clear my head and the first-day jitters (yes, teachers get them too), and focus. It also gives me energy to get through my day after a summer of staying up late and sleeping in!

Wear matching outfits with my collaborative teaching partner....SHE HATES IT!  I think her loathe for coordinating colors makes me love it all the more :)

I like to start off with an inquiry investigation to get them thinking about science.  The next day is when I do procedures and class expectations.  I don't have rules anymore.  I tell them that by now they have been in school long enough to know the basic rules of the school and a classroom so we work together on coming up with procedures and expectations that will help make the classroom a positive learning environment.  This puts the ownership back on the student.

Make any copies you need for the first couple of days at the beginning of inservice.  Lots of teachers wait until the end of inservice and the lines for the copy machine can get long.
Mrs. E Teaches Math

Each year I write my students a letter about me and my hopes for the coming year.  In return each student writes me a letter.  It is due the following day.  This activity gives me a quick insight into their writing abilities and gives me a glimpse of each student.

I hope you've found a tip or two that you can use for the beginning of your school year!

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