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The First Days

The First Days is a collection of tips and ideas. These pages are not geared for any specific grade level. Please pick and choose what works for you. Feel free to copy and use the sample activities, and to copy these pages to share with others.

Where to begin...

  • Beginning on the first day, post a schedule for the day.
  • Take the time to learn to pronounce each of the student's names, and to find out exactly what they like to be called. Often times the names on the class lists do not coincide with the name that the student actually goes by. Be sure you know all of the students' names by the end of the day.
  • Be sure you have record of the bus numbers and transportation plans for each child. If your students are wearing name tags during the first days, be sure that bus number is on them. This is a huge point of confusion and stress for children and parents as school begins. Think of a way to keep track of those bus numbers!
  • Go over the procedures for a fire drill with your students. In most schools, there will be one within the first couple days.
  • During the first week of school it is important to establish the kind of environment you want in your classroom. If you want the students to understand what being responsible, cooperative, or thoughtful means, it needs to be discussed as a class and expectations need to be established.
  • Morning procedures need to be explained to the students and established for the year. A message board for the students to read upon entering the classroom is a quiet reminder of the student expectations.
  • Teach procedures for entering the class in the morning and beginning morning work, how to head a paper, and where to turn in completed work. It is important that the students prepare for the day, sharpen pencils, update their calendar, read their morning book, or complete an activity which relates to the first lesson of the day. It is also important to have this routine in place so you are free to greet students, take attendance, or collect lunch money without disruption.
  • Assign "homework" buddies that students can call when they are absent to find out what work was missed.
  • Establish procedures for students leaving class to attend special classes or activities, such as patrols, band, GT, speech, chorus and strings.
  • Assign the duties of class helpers (paper passers, messengers, attendance, cafeteria cleanup, board washers, line leaders). Demonstrate how you want the class duties to be performed. Try to have a job for each child in the classroom to help out during the week.
  • Introduce and establish a discipline plan - have each student sign a list of rules that they agree to follow - post rules and consequences. See "Some Management Tips" for more suggestions and ideas.
  • Review procedures for checking out books from the classroom library and visiting the school library.
  • Take the time to introduce students to all adults working in the building and explain the role of each adult.
  • Have a student decorate a permanent name tag for their desk. These name tags should stay on the desk for the entire year so teachers, principal, vice principal, specialists, and substitutes can use the student's name when they visit your classroom. Try not to use permanent or sticky adhesives to put items on a student's desk. Cut poster board into rectangles which comfortably fit on the student desks. Write the students' name in permanent marker on one side. For third graders I write their name in cursive on one side and in manuscript on the other side, so they can have their name on the side they choose. The students use markers or colored pencils to decorate their name tag. Laminate the name tags and use masking tape to attach to the desk or table so they can easily be removed
  • Fifteen minutes before school is over, have each child write in a notebook what they learned or did at school that day. The student can tell of one special thing they learned or participated in with their classmates. This notebook travels home for the parents to read and is returned the next day. The parents are welcome to write back to the students in the notebook. The name of the notebook is determined by the students. Examples: My School Journal... What I Learned Today...


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