It’s almost the first
day of school, and you probably have a list of things to do and consider before
the morning bell rings.What will my students be like? Is my classroom set up
in the best possible way? How will the first day go?
Whether you are a new teacher or a veteran,
the first day of school is always a little bit stressful. Here are two
easy-to-implement tips to help make your first day a little easier.
Get the most out of your meet and greet
First, take a deep breath and relax. Students know which
teachers are happy, which are stressed, those who love being there, and those
who don’t. Next, take a moment to think about your favorite teacher. S/he was
most likely happy, warm, outgoing, and engaging. As you prepare for the first
day, think about how you will demonstrate your personality to your students. It
will make a difference!
At the beginning of the day and/or during the
passing periods, stand at your door and greet each entering student with a
smile and a hello. Engage in small talk and compliment each student
about something (e.g.,their name, hair style, t-shirt, binder, etc.).
Greeting your students effectively starts the school year because:
- It helps students feel welcome and noticed, which will immediately put them at ease.
- It makes each student stand out in your mind, which will help you learn all of your students’ names (especially for middle and high school teachers who can have 100+ new students). Here are more tips for remembering names from Forbes.
- It allows you to direct each student to where you want them to sit, which brings us to our second first-day-of-school tip!
You’ve finished your student teaching and you’ve landed that long sought after job. But the first day of school is almost here (if it hasn’t arrived already), and you’re beginning… Read more »
Read More about First Day Teaching Tips for First Time Teachers
Take control of seating arrangements
More than likely, you won’t know all of your students before the
first day, so you can’t effectively make a seating chart based on personality
or learning needs. So how do you seat your students? Here are a few examples:
Collaborative (i.e. cooperative)
grouping is one of the most effective teaching strategies
because it encourages academic conversations and collective problem solving. By
seating students in groups on the first day of school, you will take all the
guess work out of choosing who will be in which group, and you will eliminate
transition time when you want to switch from independent to group work.
To set this up, arrange the desks in groups of four and color
code each group. Create a set of color cards and as you greet each student at
the door, hand them their color card and ask them to find their group.
The horseshoe is another effective way to arrange your room. To
set this up, arrange your desks to form a “U” shape with all students facing
inwards. This arrangement allows all students to have the same view of the
front of the classroom, and it’s great for facilitating classroom discussions.
The easiest way to facilitate first day seating in this pattern
is to number each desk. Similar to the collaborative group scenario, as you
greet each student, hand him/her an associated number card.
This arrangement combines elements of the horseshoe and
collaborative grouping. To set it up, group desks into rows of four. Instead of
facing desks towards each other (as in a traditional grouping arrangement),
angle all desks to face the middle of the room (very similar to a horseshoe).
Since desks are in groups of four, there is more room for you to walk from
student to student than in a horseshoe setting. This arrangement also has the
advantage of creating ready-made teams for collaborative learning.
Benefits of Preplanned Seating on the First Day
- Choosing a seat on the first day of school can be a very stressful scenario for many students. You will eliminate this stress by choosing their seating for them.
- It allows the more reserved students to sit in a group without intimidation.
- It separates groups of friends and gives them the opportunity to meet new people.
- It prevents students who gravitate to the back of the room from choosing the most remote seat.
As the year progresses, your seating chart will most definitely
change, but having a plan for seating on the first day will help set your
students up for success and productivity!
So remember, the first day will have its share of challenges, but try not to stress out. Focus on the excitement of getting to know your new students, and you’ll be on your way to a great school year!