The first week of school is always very stressful for me. I know I’m not alone when I say that it is not the easiest time of the year, but it is a very, very important time of the year. The first day of school is mostly spent getting to know each other and laying down the rules of the classroom.
1. Supplies: When the students enter the room, I usually instruct them to find their desks, which are pre-labeled with their names, and put everything they brought out on their desks. I label areas of the room with supplies that the students might bring in, such as Kleenex, hand sanitizer, or notebook paper, to name a few. They will leave anything that I am not collecting at their desks (notebooks, folders, pencil box).
2. Ice Breaker: On the carpet, read the story “First Day Jitters” by Julie Danneberg. Discuss how the characters were feeling and ask how students were feeling this morning. Talk about how we have a safe environment for learning here and we are all citizens of this community. We treat each other with respect. This can lead into a mini lesson on rules of the classroom.
3. Rules: I like to do positive rules so they know exactly what acceptable behavior looks like. Treat others kindly (use kind words, polite words), raise your hand and wait to speak, do your best. I also go over hallway behavior at this time: Single, straight, silent line. Roll play what this looks like and why it’s important.
4. Morning Routine: Back at their seats we talk about what happens every morning. I like to give students their homework binders at this time. We practice going out of the room with our bookbags, come into the room and hang up the bookbag, and put the homework binder in my bin. Then they go to their seats and copy the day’s agenda and homework and work on morning work if they do not go to breakfast. We practice this a few times.
5. Restroom practice: Before going to the restroom, we do a mini lesson on restroom behavior. Next we practice lining up at the door (I like to do ABC order). Remind students of the hallway behavior rules and go to the restroom.
6. Get to know me: Students will now work with a partner in their table group to complete an About Me Venn Diagram. They talk to each other about their family, favorite subject, favorite color, etc. and fill in the Venn Diagram. Then pairs will share with the class what they learned about each other. This sharing time can also be used to teach/reinforce the rules of raising hands, waiting to talk, and staying in seats until told to move. I also practice attention getters during this time, like clap patterns or give me 5.
7. Lunch Rules: Do a quick mini lesson on lunchroom behaviors/procedures: Stay in line to get food, sit boy/girl at the table, table manners, clean up procedures, lining up after. Since we have specials after lunch, I like to do a mini lesson on the rules for specials as well. I expect the same behaviors in specials as in the classroom. Recess: Mini lesson about recess procedures and rules. Keep hands to yourself, go down the slides, take turns, be careful, and tell me if there is an emergency.
8. Discuss daily schedule: Show students the schedule and highlight how each subject works. Math will be in workshop style, with small groups. Do mini lesson on small group math behaviors. Reading will be in small groups and independent work. Do a mini lesson on reading small group behaviors and expectations as well as library behavior and expectations. Many of the behaviors and expectations will be repeated for the different subjects to reinforce those behaviors (12-inch voices, share and take turns, respect others, complete your work/stay on task, return materials the way you found them, do your best).
9. Writing: Give a writing sample. Mine is usually about their “Favorite Summer Memory”.
10. End of the day: Discuss and practice end of the day procedures. We pack up our binders, get bookbags, and do our classroom jobs. Practice this. For homework I give students the instructions for how to do a Paper Bag activity in which they put 5 pictures or items of things that are important to them. This is due at the end of the week and they will share with the class so we can get to know each other better.
You can do these in any order to fit your time schedule for your classroom. This is just a guide to help you start generating ideas that will work for your classroom. Now, just take a deep breath, relax, and rest up for tomorrow! After the first week it should be smooth sailing right?
Please feel free to comment if you like something, would change something, or would add something. I’m always looking to improve my teaching. Also if you would like to share your own lessons, we would love for you to contribute! Please let us know!
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