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Six Things to Remember on the First Day of School

Six Things to remember on the first day of school: for novices and experienced teachers, some helpful reminders for that big day!

Today was my 38th first day of school as a teacher. You'd think I've had enough practice at this, but I still get nervous on the first day. Here are a few things I have to remind myself about each year:

1. Don't try to do it all in a day, set priorities! I can't wait for the children to know all our procedures so we can get down to actual academics. But that takes weeks. Today, I focused on procedures during group shares.

2. Give plenty of opportunities to talk! This can be tricky since many of the children are kind of shy at first. I use "turn and talk" all the time, but it takes some warming up to be comfortable with the group. Start today, with limited expectations and lots of guidance. Today my students had to tell something they were looking forward to in second grade. I gave them several examples, which some of the shy kids used, and the more outgoing were able to go beyond the examples.

3. They haven't had to sit still or listen all summer! It's tempting (and often necessary) to do a lot of talking on the first day, but keep it short. After a few minutes of sitting still, they'll never remember what you said anyway! Want to help them remember? Have them repeat what you say, using gestures.

4.  Let them see you make a mistake or two.  Many children fear looking bad to the new teacher. It's important that they see mistakes are normal and encouraged. I definitely don't have any trouble making mistakes, but when I do, I model what I expect children to do when they make mistakes.

5.  Let them see you have a sense of humor. Laughter is an important part of every day. No matter how stressful the work gets, or how many tests you have to give, or how naughty the children might be, a sense of humor puts it all in perspective. There's a lot of learning to be done this year, but it's important to make it fun. Read a funny book or tell a silly story.

6.  Make sure they want to come back! Make sure there's at least one activity that is fun enough to make them go home with a smile, tell their families how much fun your class is, and make them want to come back tomorrow.

What else might you add to this list?


  1. I actually want to send your list to our district administration for teacher in-service at the beginning of the year...especially 1, 3, & 6.

    1. Thanks, Mary!

      I don't know that administrators have any idea how tough it is!


  2. Every year is a new teaching experience. I'm glad you remind yourself of this, your students are so lucky to have you as a teacher. Hands down this is amazing advice. I am going to send this to every teacher I know! Karen

    1. Karen,
      Thanks for your kind words. I appreciate it!


  3. Hi Sally,

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    If you know any other teachers who might be interested in this Website, please forward this to them and if you have any questions, feel free to message me.

    Have a great day

  4. Sally, congrats on your 36th first day of school!! That is amazing! You have great tips for beginning a new school year. Have a wonderful year!
    Conversations in Literacy

  5. Great list. I do have a problem with #6. What if I don't want them to come back? JK!

  6. Great list, thanks for the reminders! Have an awesome year! :)


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