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10 Things New Teachers Should Do for the First Day of School

New Teacher Strategies for the Beginning of the School Year


For a new teacher, that first day of school is the source of anxiety and excitement. While most have had experience teaching in a controlled environment, typically with their supervising teacher present at all times, from this point on they will be flying solo. There is much for a new teacher to consider and prepare before that first day. The following strategies are designed to help prepare new teachers calm their nerves and succeed from day one.

1. Know the School Policies

Each school and school district will have policies and procedures that you will need to learn. Read through any official handbooks that are given to you. Pay close attention to things like attendance policies and discipline plans. Also, make sure to know how to go about requesting a day off in case of illness. In fact, you should be prepared to be sick a lot during your first year. You will be faced with many new germs and most new teachers will use all of their sick days. Work now to begin building your immune system.

You should also ask your coworkers and assigned mentor about procedures that might not be clearly written. For example, it's important to know how the administration expects you to handle sending students who are disruptive out of class.

2. Familiarize Yourself With the School

Learn the layout of the school. Find where the closest student restroom is to your room. Locate the media center and the student cafeteria. Learning these will help you feel more comfortable on campus and help if new students have questions for you.

3. Meet Your Coworkers

It is essential that you meet and begin to make friends with your coworkers, especially those who teach right around you. They will be who you turn to first with questions and concerns. It is also important that you meet and begin to build relationships with key people around the school such as the person in charge of the media center, your janitor, and the individual in charge of teacher absences.

4. Get Your Room Organized

You will probably have a week or less to set up your classroom for that first day. You should make sure to arrange classroom desks the way you want them for the school year. If you are not sharing a room, take some time to add decorations to boring cork boards and possibly hang posters about topics you will be covering during the year.

5. Have All Materials Ready for the First Day

One of the first things you should learn is the procedure for making photocopies. Some schools require you to turn in requests well in advance, and the office staff will make the copies for you. Other schools allow you to make copies yourself. In either case, you will need to plan ahead of time which copies that you need for the first day and get them made. Do not put this off until the last minute because chances are that if you do, you will not be able to get them made in time.

6. Get There Early

Arrive at school early that first day. Go to your room and have some quiet time before the students start to invade. Make sure your materials are ready to go and organized so that you don't have to search for anything when the class bell rings that first time.

7. Create Detailed Lesson Plans for the First Week

In order to be well prepared, you should overplan. Make detailed lesson plans including directions for yourself on what to do throughout each class period. Read them and know them. Definitely do not try to "wing it" that first week.

8. Greet Each Student and Begin to Learn Their Names

Stand at the door, smile, and warmly greet students as they enter your class for the first time. Try and learn the names of a few students. Then when you are in class and begin teaching, use the names you have learned to call on a few students. One note: do not point out your newness. Don't state that this is your first time teaching. Remember, student teaching counts.

9. Go Over Rules and Procedures With Your Students

Make sure you have posted the classroom rules and discipline plan for all students to see. Go over each rule and what steps you will take if these rules are broken. Do not assume that students will read these on their own. Continually reinforce the rules from day one as part of effective classroom management.

10. Start Student Learning on the First Day

Make sure that you teach something on that first day of school. Do not spend the entire period on housekeeping tasks. After you take attendance and go through the classroom syllabus and rules, jump right in. Don't make it too intensive, but make sure that students know that your classroom is going to be a place of learning from day one.
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