Starting the Year Off Strong

A new school year comes with lots of excitement. There are bulletin boards to decorate, rosters to print out, and seating charts to make. While exciting, the start of a school year can also be overwhelming. It is important to start the year off strong. I’ve found that it is important to make my expectations clear on the first day of school.

Make students aware of your expectations the minute they enter your classroom.

I always have assigned seats. I would never, under any circumstances, consider not having assigned seats on the first day of school. I write them on the desk using Sharpies. I make it clear that my expectation is that students silently find their seat. This is, of course, a bit awkward on the first day because they don’t know where they sit. I keep this in mind when I see students helping one another find their seats. I do not hesitate to correct the behavior that is out of line. I have even required students to walk out of my room and reenter.

Have something engaging that students can do right away.

It is very important for me to be free to help answer questions on the first day of school. I like to give students an activity that is engaging and takes them a while to complete. Last year, I wrote a letter to my students. It was lighthearted and irreverent, but it allowed students to glimpse a bit of my personality. On the back of the letter, I listed the requirements for students to write me back. I read every letter after school ended that day and referred back to them throughout the school year.

Start building relationships right away.

I like to go around the room and have a personal conversation with all of my students on the first day of school. I have them tell me their name so I don’t have to worry about mispronouncing it in front of the class. Student relationships are the key to success in my classroom, and it is very important to me that I start building them on day one.

The first day of school goes by in a flash. It is easy to get caught up in the energy of the day and forget to plant some seeds that will reap benefits for the rest of the year.