First Day of School – Middle School Teacher Edition

Middle school teacher works on building relationships with a group of students on the first day of school

Image courtesy of Canva


You know what they say about never getting a second chance at a first impression? 

That applies to your teaching too! 



Please STOP Covering the Syllabus on the First Day!

If you communicate to your students that what you care about most is your content, by default, you are communicating that you care less about them. The first day of school should not be about the content of your class. The first day (maybe even the first week 🤯) should be spent getting to know your students and allowing them to get to know you. Putting those relationships first will help in the long run. 
Middle school female student is bored when teacher reads through the syllabus on the first day of school.
Image courtesy of Canva

Here is what to do instead of covering the syllabus:

  • Make a point to talk to every student, one on one. When you get to that student, you know the one last year’s teachers warned you about, don’t let them know what you have heard about them. Don’t “encourage” them to have a better year this year. Allow them to show you who they are NOW, not who they were last year. 
  • Let them explore their new surroundings. This could be done in the style of a gallery walk, where students look at images or respond to questions as they move around the room. You could even put together a scavenger hunt that allows them to discover where important items in the classroom are…like the kleenex and hand sanitizer! 

  Click here for an editable classroom scavenger hunt  



Group of middle school students try to solve scavenger hunt clues to find items in their new classroom.
Image courtesy of Canva


  • Allow time for students to talk with each other.  These students will be in class together every day for at least a semester, maybe even a year. Setting the tone of a classroom community is important. Now, you may not want them talking about anything and everything, so you could structure that time by providing questions to assist them in getting to know each other.  A lively game of “Would you rather?” is always a blast! 
  • Middle schoolers might not say it out loud, but they actually do want to get to know you. If you are comfortable, show them pictures of yourself and your family, tell them where you are from, what college you went to, or what sports you like. This could be done in a question/answer format, you could show them a slide-show, or you could make it into a game. Encourage your students to be detectives, to investigate the classroom (many of us have personal items in our classrooms, you know…it’s our second home), and come to conclusions on who you are. 
All the activities mentioned in this post, and more back to school items, are available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Check out the Back to School Stations Bundle for a great discount!
Remember, the first day of school sets the tone for your classroom. How do you want students to feel? I will leave you with the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”