back to school,  classroom,  teacher

It’s a Teacher Thing: The First Week

We all get nervous…but you can do it!

First, sorry for being MIA last week. It was the week of teacher in-service days and boy, oh boy, did I stay busy! Goodness. The week flew by. Between stressing over getting my room done (I did and might put up another blog post with pictures), preparing for orientation (I met 76 of my students but, of course, the ones with the crazy IEPs did not come), taking a field trip into our students’ neighborhoods (and chasing down a shell-shocked kid to give him candy), and trying to lesson plan…it was a crazy week to say the least. So my apologies to the one person who reads this blog! 😉

This week, I want to talk to you about your first week with the kiddos. For many of you, that is this week. In my district, we start on Tuesday so we have one more day to gather our sanity before the minions start making their way into our classrooms. I’m going to give you some tips on what to do in these first few days and hopefully your week will go swimmingly. And, if you are already back in school, I’d love to hear what you did your first week! So let’s dive in.

  1. Start the week off with a get-to-know you activity. I always do an “About Me” PowerPoint on Day 1 and then have the students complete some kind of ‘about me’ worksheet or activity. Last year, I did a crazy time traveler theme and dressed up as a time traveler (since that would be the theme for the year). I even made a video and interacted with myself in the video as the Director of the Time Agency. Yeah…I might have gone a little overboard. But the key is still to do something to allow your students to get to know you and for you to get to know them. You’re going to be spending the next 180 days together – you want to know each other. I’m going to link some resources from TeachersPayTeachers at the bottom of this post of some good About Me activities.
  2. Icebreakers are fun and team-building activities are great, too. Just make sure that you allot time for them and keep them age-appropriate. Some of the icebreakers out there are really hard – you’d be surprised!!
  3. Spend the first week (or at least several days) on procedures. This applies especially to elementary and middle school (I’m not sure how much time is spent on procedures in high school). If your students don’t know what is expected of them, how do you expect them to follow the rules? I’ve usually done a PowerPoint where I go over the various procedures and it’s usually boring but I’ve never been able to think of a way to really jazz it up. I’d love to hear ideas! My last blog post was all about procedures and expectations so refer to that for ideas. It’s not necessary to cover every.single.procedure in this first week but you should make sure your students know what to expect.
  4. Learn their names! Now, when you have 110+ students, as I do, it’s sometimes hard to learn all their names in a week but I encourage you to do your best. There are cool name tag ideas out there on the Internet that can help you or you can print their pictures off and put them on your seating chart to help…there are many ways. I’ve done an activity where I go around and have them each say their name and the name of the student(s) before them and it doubles as an Icebreaker. Then I have to see if I can say them all at the end!! It’s fun and crazy. I also always get them to tell me if they go by a nickname or another name at the beginning of the year. Every year, when I call the roster, I say “Now if there’s another name or a nickname that you like to go by, now is the time to tell me. I ain’t gonna call you Captain America or Beyonce but if you go by a middle name or a legit nickname, I will call you that.” I usually get a couple chuckles here :).
  5. Have fun. You’ve probably heard the adage ‘don’t smile until Christmas’ and I think that’s utter baloney. I do agree with the idea that you can always get easier but you can’t get harder but I think that there is no need to be super insanely strict and mean from Day 1. Partly that could be because I have no poker face and joke around too much…but I think you can be engaged and have fun with your students and have high expectations as well. If this is your first year, you may want to start off a little more strict than most. But remember that these kids are good kids at the core. They want to learn and have fun and behave (most of them). So have fun with them!!

Here are the links to a few fun “About Me” back to school products on TeachersPayTeachers:

This is a fun one that I found where students put their about me information on a cell phone template and then color it! The seller has a bunch of different templates like t-shirts and hoodies. Check it out!

This is one that I’ve used for the past 6 years. It’s a lot of fun and I love reading the kids’ answers. I’m moving away from it this year but it’s a great one to use!

So that’s it! I hope your years get off to a great start and would love to hear from you! Happy back to school!