Monday, August 17, 2015

Setting Up for the 1st Hour of the First Day of School

The first day of school can be a little tricky, scary, exciting, fun, nerve-racking and did I say, scary yet?? And I am talking about for us as teachers. Of course, we know this is the case for students as well ;) Even as I go into my 10th year in the classroom (7th in my very own classroom), I still get anxious when I think about the first day of school. I have learned that so many things come up which I didn't plan for or have no planned response for. I wonder what will my kids be like, will they give me more than one word answers when I ask them questions, will they have everything they need, what am I going to forget to tell them, and when the end of the day comes, will I be able to drive home without falling asleep at the wheel! No matter how many First Days we have, this is bound to happen. We get nervous and excited and have a ton of emotions running through us (all signs that we rock at teaching, by the way). To help with this, I TRY to plan for every little, minor detail. In the past, I made sure that I always kept detailed plans and SAVED THEM so that I can refer back each year. As I read through my plans from the past 2 years, already I am remembering things that happened out of the blue which I will need to prepare for this year.

As soon as the kids step into our classroom, the very first thing that we have to deal with on our First Day of Fifth Grade is SUPPLIES. Every summer, I send out a supply list for students. It changes every year. For example, I really don't need a new 4ft high stack of construction paper every year so I don't need to ask for each kid to bring us a pack. However, a Kindergarten class probably does. So when I make these lists each year, I think about what I don't need as well as what I might not have asked enough of the prior year. Like tissues. I learned that asking for one box per student is nowhere near enough for the entire school year.

When my students enter the classroom on that First Day, they are trekking in with a giant backpack full of brand new school supplies. Pencils, markers, binders, tissues, glue, etc. Sooo....

This is the plan:

1. Students will enter the classroom and go to their assigned desk with their backpacks.
2. They will notice the checklist of supplies, a funky, cool note and glow bracelet (thank you, Pinterest!), and a brown grocery bag.
3. Students will check off each supply that they have and place some in the brown bag and others they will leave on their desk.
4. They will then place the list (with their name on it) in the bag and bring to our back table.
5. Next, they will open one of their composition books and start to journal by answering the prompt: "What was the best thing you did all summer?"

I am hoping that this Plan of Attack will eliminate confusion, chaos and nervousness on both our parts. By giving them explicit directions for their supplies as well as a very simple and independent assignment as soon as they walk in, I will be able to give my attention to other things that are bound to come up first thing.

How do you prepare your students for the first hour of school on the FIRST DAY?

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