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Career Questions: Opening Day

Q:  What’s the best thing to do on the first day of school?  I usually spend the time going over the rules and procedures, handing out books, and just getting things organized.  It seems to me that it’s better to just spend the day setting things up.

A:  All of these “maintenance issues” need to be addressed at some point.  Just not the first day.

Think of the first day from the students’ perspective.  A whole day spent going over rules and getting organized?  “BOR-ing!”

Instead, why not hit the ground running with some fun activities that challenge their brains and give them a preview of what could be a great year?  Start a project, give them a problem to solve, read them a short story and talk about it, play a word game,

If you’re a secondary teacher, give them something interesting to do immediately in class – a short written paragraph to be shared, an opinion of a current event, finding the size of the classroom, testing for pH.  They will not be expecting anything like this, so it’s a great way to grab their attention and set the stage for the coming year.  Give them a little homework (probably no one else will) and make sure you check it and use it the next day to establish your expectations.

You only get one first day.  It’s your chance to shine.  Set the tone that this class will be a favorite, one that kids will look forward to.  Maybe they’ll go home and say, “My teacher is crazy.  But in a good way.”

The class rules and regulations need to be shared at some point as needed.  But remember it’s about doing, not about telling.






Great advice, this would definitely set a better tone for the year with students of any age. Of course you must direct them to their places (if circle time or whatever is involved) but perhaps mentioning rules and expectations as you move through the day will be more useful than simply listing them.

My thoughts exactly. You can set the tone for the entire year that first day!

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Practical Leadership are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.