Tuesday, August 1, 2017

First Day of School Plans

What do I do on the first day of school?   The way you start off your year is crucial, but it doesn't have to be difficult at all!  Here are 3 things that I think every primary teacher should do on the first day of school.

1) Provide accessible and non-threatening seatwork

I like to set up my classroom with playdough and blank paper with crayons on the first morning of school.  Most, if not all, students will enjoy being able to focus on something accessible that doesn't require instructions, and YOU will enjoy the freedom that gives you to be able to talk with parents or help students who are having a hard time adjusting.

Throughout the day I also ensure that all seatwork is accessible and review only.  I think it's imperative that the students feel like they CAN DO this new grade.  

Back to my morning....once we are underway and the parents have departed, I gather the students at the carpet and I tell them how excited I am that I get to be their teacher.  I tell them in a whisper voice that I feel like I'm the luckiest teacher in the world because I get to teach them this year. This is the perfect way to ....

2) Focus on Connections with students and break the ice

Connect with the students by learning their names, learning a bit about each child, and telling them a few facts about yourself that students can relate to (favourite foods, pets, activities you enjoy).  Give the students the opportunity to talk with one another by playing ice-breaker games or sharing about something they did in the summer.

Throughout the whole day, the focus is on the CHILDREN and not what we can accomplish.  I usually way over-plan, but this actually helps out, because I can push any unfinished read-alouds, games, or activities onto the next day(s). 

One of my favorite games to play is "Red Elbow."  You simply combine a body part name and a color.  Students need to put that body part on something of that same color in the room.  So "red elbow" means they put their elbow on something red, like a poster or a backpack, etc.  To save your sanity, start off with some really simple ones like combine hand+the color of your tables/desks, etc so that kids aren't too squished :)  

I also like to take the time to do physical activities (outside if possible) to let off some of the first day of school excitement.  If we can't go outdoors for whatever reason, I like to do "animal poses and stretches".  It takes no prep, just ask students to stretch like a cat, or wiggle like a snake, or hop like a bunny, etc.

3) Settle the nerves about what will happen the next day

I know that anxiety is a reality for many of us (teachers AND students) and I try to do my best to relieve any anxieties that I have the power to reduce.  At the end of the first day I make sure that the students understand what will be happening on the next day.  I preview the "shape of the day" and make sure they know what will be waiting for them first thing in the morning (playdough, drawing, pattern blocks).

Some of my favorite activities for the first day(s) of school are found in these packets.  Simply click to take a closer look:

I wish you a most wonderful back to school season.  And remember, you've got this!  Just be you; have faith in your abilities!

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