Your Best First Day Ever: Five Tips to Make It a Success!

Nervous about the first day? New and returning teachers can benefit from educator Kristen Strickland’s tips for a great first day!

It’s the first day of school, and I think most teachers want to fast forward to mid-October. By then, you know every student’s name, they know your classroom procedures, and the daily routine is just … easier! 

Until then, here are some tips and tricks to making those first few days, the ones filled with the unknown but also the exciting, a bit less daunting and a great success. 

Tip 1: Get back to the basics. Review your classroom management plan, your lesson planning calendar, and classroom procedures. I like to pull out the classic teacher textbook The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher by Harry K. Wong. It’s a great way to reflect on my teaching strengths and pinpoint what I can improve in the new school year. If you have a professional learning community (PLC), you might all benefit from reviewing Understanding by Design (also known as Backwards by Design) by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe.

Tip 2: Grab your students’ interest. Find a fun video to share with them. It could relate to a topic they will learn or a passion of yours. eMediaVA is a great resource! Have a few ice breakers, so you can assess who your class clown will be, (you’re smirking right now because there is always one!), the shy ones, and the students who aren’t afraid to voice their opinions. This is also a great time to have an interest survey which will help later down the road when you might need to make connections with students that are harder to reach. 

Tip 3: Overplan and organize. Fill your lesson with so much to cover that you are positive you won’t get to all of it. In teaching, there are few things worse than not filling class time on the first day of school. I know we are all mindful of using less paper, but the first day of school is the day to PRINT! Print your rosters, print your seating charts, and print your lesson plan. Have your classroom procedures posted throughout the room, and go over everything. 

Tip 4: Find your person. If you are a returning teacher at your school, this will be easy. Get in touch with a fellow teacher friend. Let them know you might need some extra support on the first day. Offer your shoulder to them, as well. If you’re new to your building, find another new teacher or reach out to your mentor. Having a backup cheerleader or someone to lean on will make you feel more relaxed!

Tip 5: Rest! The weekend before school starts, try your best to not take work home. Consider this time sacred. You won’t get summer back until next year, so enjoy your final weekend with the ones you love!

Kristen Strickland is an ITRT in Chesapeake Public Schools and an eMediaVA Ambassador.

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