Whether you are a rookie or a veteran teacher, we all experience feelings of excitement and worry about the first day of school. Making a good first impression and setting the classroom atmosphere is certainly a high priority for most teachers. Nearly all teachers begin the school year by introducing their class rules. A good way to make certain that your students will definitely, "tune-you-out" on the first day is to devote too much time reviewing rules, expectations and procedures.
What follows are some practical tips for establishing a positive classroom atmosphere on the first day of school.
1. In Place of Rules Develop Class Objectives
Establish a list of classroom objectives focusing on the habits and dispositions students will need to be successful in life. Classroom objectives should have nothing to do with rules, but serve as a set of guiding principles to help students to be successful in school as well as other facets of their lives.
2. Keep the Class Objectives Simple & Relevant to Success
Your classroom principles should consist of short statements relevant to the students future success and should require little explanation. For example: Work hard. Be Kind. Always do your best.
3. Introduce the Classroom Objectives & Get to Work!
Understand, your students will have the entire school year to assimilate the classroom objectives. Think of your class objectives as part of an ongoing discussion that will last the entire school year. As the students participate in lessons and various other activities, help your students to connect the skills they are learning in the classroom directly to the principles set forth in the classroom objectives. On the first day of school, dedicate only a few minutes (7-10 minutes) to the classroom objectives. Then get the class working!
4. Don’t: Make the 1st Day of Class Any Different, Establish Your Routine & Get Your Students Working!
It is important to get the class working as quickly as possible on the first day of school. Establishing a high work ethic lets your students know that your class is a working class. Let the first day of school be no different than any other day in the school year!
Be especially patient on the first day of school. Students need be excited to be at school and their learning. Our students need to learn to take school work seriously and to always do their best. Don’t be concerned about whether or not your students fully understand the classroom rules on the first day, briefly present them and begin working.