Beyond the Syllabus: Crafting an Unforgettable First Day of School!

Welcome to the ultimate guide on how to rock the first day of school! Let’s face it, that day can be pretty rough for both teacher and students! Class rosters and schedules all over the place, tons of interruptions, and everyone acting like they forgot how to HUMAN over the summer! But, you’ve got this!

Start by making a killer first impression to set the tone for the year! Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, I’ve got your back! Say goodbye to syllabus review – let’s build an awesome classroom culture instead!!

Forget about the syllabus - build relationships!

I know it’s tempting to jump right in with reviewing the syllabus, but trust me, it’s not the way to go! Covering the course content on day one sends the wrong message – it’s like saying the content you teach is more important than your students. 😲😲😲

What you really want to do is spend some quality time getting to know your students and letting them get to know you. Building those connections is the key to a solid foundation for the rest of the year. 

Image shows a female, middle school student, who looks incredibly bored and unmotivated. Maybe her teacher is covering the syllabus on the first day of school!?

Classroom Culture Building FTW!

All this theory stuff is great, but let’s get down to business – how can you rock the first day of school?

1. Make it Personal – Go beyond a quick high five on their way in the door. Make a point to talk to each student one-on-one. That’s right, a real conversation with each student. Ask them a question about themselves, tell them you’re excited to have them in class, but PLEASE make sure you are pronouncing their name correctly! No one likes it when their name gets butchered.

2. Let the Adventure Begin! – Get students up and moving around the room. Create fun activities that let them explore their new classroom. It’s important to do what you can to help them feel comfortable in their new surroundings on the first day of school.

3. Share Some Facts About Yourself – Middle schoolers are nosey, I mean curious! They want to know who you are and what you’re about, so they can figure out why they should listen to you! Show them pictures of yourself and your family (only if you are comfortable with this), tell them what college you went to, what sports you like, or what hobbies you have.

💡 Pro tip! Make it into a game – encourage students to be detectives, search for clues around the classroom, and come to a conclusion, based on the evidence they find, about who you are!

Practical Tips for Building classroom culture of the first day of school

✔️ Break the ice with some games to help your students get comfortable with each other and have some fun!

✔️ Set up interactive stations – They allow for frequent movement and don’t require sustained concentration, which should help students stay engaged. They haven’t built up the stamina to stay focused for long periods of time, yet!

Click here to get your hands on a set of ready-to-go station activities for the first day of school!

✔️ Embrace technology – Show a short video, allow some Google searches, etc. Anything that can give students a quick tech fix. You’ll find many students “detoxing” from unlimited tech access.  

💡 Pro tip! Don’t try to teach station procedures today. It’s ok if they don’t transition silently, I promise!

The Perks of Building Classroom Culture from the First Day of School

Now, some folks might worry about time and whether all this culture-building stuff is worth it. I mean, what about the pacing guide?!  But, here’s the deal – investing time in building relationships early, will pay off later!

💡 Pro tip! Use timers to manage your minutes – You can totally balance fun activities with the stuff that admin deems necessary. #KeepYourJob

💡 Pro tip! Showing your real self…you know the human one will help reduce your anxiety about the first day of school, as well as your students!

Rock the first day of school - you've got this!

There you have it, folks – the ultimate guide on how to rock the first day of school! Ditch the boring syllabus talk and start building connections with your awesome students. Remember what Teddy Roosevelt said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” So, go out there, show your students you care,  and make this year unforgettable! You’ve got this!

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