Back-to-school season is upon us! The first day of school is so exciting, but it can also be nerve-wracking if you’re not prepared. Here are some quick tips to make your first day go as smoothly as possible. As someone who has been part of 17 first days of school, I can tell you the key is to manage your expectations!
Get them in, get them fed, get them home. If you manage those three things on the first day, you’ve done your job! However, here are a few more tips to make your first day as smooth as possible:
Expect the Unexpected
A water main break in front of the school. Computer monitors on the ground because construction in the classroom wasn’t completed on time. Code red drill…and these are just a few of the first day experiences I’ve had over the years! It might sound excessive, but what helped me maintain my cool on the first day of school was planning for any and everything. Leave early because you never know when a new construction zone is going to pop up in your area. Use a lot of technology? Make sure you have backup activities in case the wireless is out. Double check your evacuation plans. Plan on how you will pivot if unexpected student behaviors pop up. Basically, be ready for any situation you can think of! In the highly unlikely event that nothing out-of-the-ordinary happens, you will be ready for the rest of the year!
Know How Your Students Go Home
I don’t know about you, but the most stressful part of the first day of school for me is dismissal. Although I’ve never lost a child (knocks on wood), not being familiar with students and their families can make the end of the day anxiety-inducing! I always make sure that knowing how every student goes home is one of the first things on my first day of school plans. It definitely helps if you can get ahold of the information beforehand, either during Meet the Teacher on via an online survey if you have access to parent emails before school starts. Then, make sure you have more than enough time at the end of the day to prepare for dismissal. I would rather be early and prepared than late and rushing out the door as the bell rings!
Organize, Organize, Organize
Hi there! I’m your friendly classroom whisperer, here to tell you that you will not remember where you put your papers when school starts on Monday. The day before school starts, make sure everything is ready. Have everything labeled, have supplies and materials prepped – and place everything in one designated area. Make extra copies of everything, and have a place to store them. This way, you won’t scramble around the room looking for things when a new student shows up without notice the next day. Sticky notes are your friend. I’m willing to bet you had a ton of amazing thoughts the Friday before school started…and you forgot every single one of them the second you walked out the door. Write them down before you leave. Even if you are Type B to the extreme, you will be glad you spent extra time organizing everything!
Stock Up on Simple Activities
No matter how much planning you do, you are definitely going to have some unexpected spare moments in your day. Whether the cafeteria is backed up, the assembly is canceled, or someone walks into your room with a form you have to fill out RIGHT THIS MINUTE, you are going to want to have some spare, no-prep activities on hand that students can complete with minimal assistance.
I like to make sure I have lots of activities like this free Word Scramble to keep my class busy all day long. Activities like these are also great to use while practicing procedures, such as working with a partner, gathering materials, turning work in, asking for help, etc. Start your collection of free activities by clicking on the picture below:
It’s the First Day of School! Have Fun!
Amidst all the chaos surrounding the first day of school, don’t forget to enjoy the moment! Have fun with your new students. You’re going to be spending a lot of time together, so make sure to start off on the right foot!
Wishing you a successful and stress-free first day of school,