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Teacher Tips to a Great First Day of School

written by: Margie • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 1/5/2012

Help make your students’ first days of school a little easier with some teacher-tested ideas that will ease student anxieties. A good start can lead to a great year.

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    Get the Year Off to a Good Start

    As the first day of school approaches, students’ palms are sweating and pulses are racing. The first day of a new school year can be frightening for even the most outgoing of students. They have to deal with new teachers, new classmates, new classrooms, new books, the list goes on and on. Give them help and encouragement so that all-important first day will lead to a successful year.

    Where to start?

    Assign Seats

    Students may balk and complain, but on the first day of school it may actually help many of them. When students enter a new class where they may not know anyone, an assigned seat removes a little stress.They won't have to worry if they will have someone to sit beside; no one wants to look like a social outcast. Assigning seats will help you learn your students’ names faster since they'll be unable to play musical chairs in your class. You can always do away with assigned seats later or assign different ones if the first ones don’t work out.

    Establish Rules and Routines

    Know your rules and routines and implement them on the first day of school as soon as your students enter your classroom. Consider how you will start class; will you use bell work? (Don't know what bell work is? Read here for about this great classroom management tool.) What is your policy for bathroom breaks? What are the consequences for disruptive behavior? Type all this information in a hand-out and supply students with a copy. You may even want to have parents sign a copy.

    Supply Students with a List of Clubs and Organizations

    Students who are involved in at least one extra-curricular activity generally do better in school. Having a place to belong and “hang-out” can make school a little easier to handle.

    Do a Get-To-Know-You Activity

    There are many of these to choose from and the sooner you start to build community in your classroom, the better. Pick something fun that will relieve a little first day of school stress. Getting to know their classmates will help students begin to build a classroom support network. This will boost their self-esteem and allow them to get more out of your class.

    Be Kind

    We've all heard the old, “Don’t let them see you smile until Christmas,” but this is simply bad advice. Students need to know their teachers are concerned about them and might even like them a little. This doesn’t mean you need to be a pushover. Quite the opposite is true, it is important to establish solid rules and routines from day one, but this does not mean you cannot show a little empathy and respect for their fears and insecurities.

    If students have a good first day of school, the teacher probably will have one as well. The first day can start the year off on a positive note leading to a great school year for everyone.