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The magic of the first day of school: Tips for getting off on the right foot

first day of school

Do you feel that tingling, that feeling of a new beginning? The start of the school year is approaching and with it the excitement of the first day of school. You want it to be special and at the same time meaningful! The first day of school defines the environment, routines, and ways of working. To make your first day of school a success, you can try the following:  

Remember first impressions count. It is important that you feel prepared and motivated. The following suggestions will help you get prepared:  

  • Plan your class ahead of time, make sure you know how long each activity will take and have some extra ones prepared just in case. Have the material you will need at hand, so you don't waste time looking for copies, cards, or dice somewhere in your bag. Try to arrive early and move chairs around if necessary, depending on the activities you planned.  
  • Check the classroom equipment. You don't want to deal with a faulty projector or recorder and have a plan B in case they don't work as expected. 
  • Choose comfortable and appropriate clothing as the first day can be exhausting.  

First day of school

Learning your students' names on the first day of school can be a challenge, so start using them immediately. Ask your students how they prefer to be called, They can choose their first name, a nickname or even the translation of their name in English. If you find it challenging to learn everyone's name fast, here are three activities that might help you memorize names in a fun way: 

  • In the "Name Game", you need a ball. All the members make a circle. The ball will advance from hand to hand, the first person to have the ball will say his or her name, pass the ball to the next person and the next person will say the name of his or her partner and his or her name and so on. If any of the students forgets the name of any of the partners, the game goes back to the beginning. The game ends when the first student goes over the names of all his/her classmates.  
  • A super creative activity is "Labels and Portrait". You can use half of a blank sheet of paper for each student. Students will draw and color their self-portrait and sign a label on the bottom like a piece of artwork with the name they would like to be identified with in class. After a brief presentation, hang them on the wall. This will give them their first art gallery in the classroom.   
  • To play "The Blanket", a small blanket is needed. Make two teams. The teams line up in front of the blanket, two volunteers hold the blanket so that the students cannot see each other. When the volunteers lower the blanket, the people facing each other will say the name of the person on the opposing team. Only the first one to say the name correctly sits down or substitutes for one of the volunteers. 

Get to know your students and let them get to know you. Share information that is fun and be friendly: Here are some activities to facilitate this time in class: 

  • The classic game of "Two Truths and A Lie" will always be a great tool. Prepare the truths and the lie in advance, you can include information that is witty, unlikely about you. Surprise your students and be amazed by their creativity and imagination.  
  • To play "Corners", you will need white or colored sheets of paper. Provide a quarter sheet of paper to each student and ask them to fold it twice. On each square of the sheet, students should write or draw something they like or something that is important, students should talk to a partner and share their information for one minute and then switch partners.  
  • "I think the teacher..." is an activity they will really enjoy. Write the title on the board and 6-8 statements about fun, every day or uncommon activities. Organize students into pairs and ask them to write down whether the statements are true or false. At the end check the answers and find out which pair seems to know you best. 

It is important to establish class agreements or regulations to foster an environment of respect and order. For these to be enforced and carried out, you can do the following: 

Develop the agreements with the students' ideas, make teams of 3-4 students and ask them to brainstorm. Monitor that the rules they propose are fair, age-appropriate, and workable. Ask each team to present their ideas. The top choices are distributed among the teams to make posters that serve as reminders and help maintain an atmosphere of cooperation and respect.  

Spread your energy and motivation to your students, enjoy this new adventure and have a great start to the school year! 

first day of school

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