The First Day of School

I haven’t seen any better advice for how to introduce yourselves to your students than that of Carol Jago:

What do I plan to do on the first day?

My classes all meet for 30 minutes, which allows for teachers to give students course information and expectations, go over supplies needed, etc. I have a handout with all of that. We also have an online learning management system where students can check this information any time. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I have read that students form a first impression of their teachers in about four seconds. That’s not even enough time to speak!

Instead of going over all the rules and procedures, I post essential questions for the course in a chalk talk. Each question gets its own sticky poster. I have about four or five questions total. I give students sticky notes. I ask them to think about the questions and respond with their thoughts on the sticky note. They put the sticky note on the poster. Then they move to another poster and do the same with the question on that poster. They don’t have to answer all the questions. After they have posted their answers, they go around and read others’ responses. If they see connections, they draw lines. They can comment on the answers, too.

This activity gets students thinking about what they will learn on day one. It also gets them up and moving around a bit. We follow with a class discussion, and usually it’s time to go. Of course, they get their course expectations handout on the way out, and I post it as homework to read it.

This activity reaps bonus rewards if you pull the posters out at the end of the year so students can reflect on their responses to those questions on the first day.

What do you do the first day?

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8 thoughts on “The First Day of School”

  1. Hello Dana! I just discovered your blog and am so grateful and excited to have your wonderfully fresh perspectives. Thank you for posting your very helpful, very high-quality, very relatable ideas.

  2. Long time reader… first time commenter.

    I love that idea. I teach juniors and seniors and so they are bored to death with rules and procedures. Typically, I have them create their own rules ( as long as they are in accordance with school policy and basic rules of a classroom) It gives them the opportunity to create their own space with their peers.

    I think I may alter this a bit and do a gallery walk with questions ( with kids and groups) then have them circle back to find connections. I could also include some questions about what they value in the classroom in terms of expectations/behavior etc.

    Thanks for the ideas!

    1. You are welcome, Holly, and thank you. I love having kids make their rules. I think I may do that with a protocol called “Agreements” that works pretty well.

  3. Funny – I did pretty much the same thing! The one exception: I added a chalk talk poster for what’s on your mind. Was nice for kids to silently respond to those who acknowledged that they were nervous to start a new school.

    I guess great minds think alike : ).

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