The First Week of School

Hi Friends,
It's been a long while since I've popped by to say hello and share some of my classroom happenings! Mostly, because I've been off enjoying my summer and visiting beautiful Switzerland! 

As much as I love vacation, I'm also very excited to get back into the classroom and meet my new kiddies. I wanted to stop by and share some of the things we need to remember during the first few days of school.

I will never forget the first time I had my First Day of School with my very own class. I remember asking one of my experienced teacher friends, "What do we do on the first day of school exactly?" I was so used to coming into a classroom that was set up and running smoothly. I had no idea how to get there myself. My first, First day of School, was not that successful. I had SO MANY plans and expectations. I wanted to gather all their supplies, get them organized, complete a fun BTS craft for the bulletin board, and teach them all about the rules and expectations. All in the same day!

I learned very quickly that everything takes VERY LONG on the first day of school. In fact, the entire first month is slow and steady. And THAT'S OK. Actually, that's how it should be. Since that fateful day, I have changed my First Day of School beliefs. Now, it is more important for me to make sure the kiddies have a HAPPY and GOOD first day of school.

My goal is to make sure all the students feel welcome and have fun. They won't all feel comfortable and excited on the first day, but my hope is that each one of them leaves a little less nervous than when they came in. First impressions are very important, and I want to make sure that my students WANT to come back to my classroom the next day.

With that being said, we tend to do a morning meeting, play with STEM bins, listen to a read aloud,  and play a fun game. This year my friend Valerie from All Students Can Shine suggested that I add a simple "All About Me" PicCollage activity on the first day. This will certainly get them excited!

The most important thing to remember about The First Day of School is that the kiddies leave happy and excited to be in your classroom this year. The organizing and learning will follow.

This is a very important part of the first week/month of school. Structure and routine will ensure that you have a smooth year with your class. It is important to implement your expectations right away and consistently remind students of what they need to do and how they need to behave. The beginning of the year is not a time to "give chances." Students must know from the get go what is expected of them. I spend a lot of time in September, REPEATING the same things over and over again. It TAKES TIME folks and you have to be willing to put in the work. Classes don't run themselves. You need to set expectations and follow through with them. If you tell your students that they need to bring their snack to class in the morning or they will lose a Dojo point, you need to take a Dojo point off if they forget. I assure you, they probably won't forget again after that.

I like to introduce a few procedures each day and continually remind and reinforce. As, the students familiarize themselves with these practices, I introduce more.  I also don't change things around too much. I don't tell them to do one thing one day and change it the next. This can get confusing. Yes, sometimes something may need to be changed, if it's not working, but try to stay CONSISTENT as much as you can.

If you take the time to introduce, practice, and follow through with your rules and routine, you will save so much time the rest of the year. Take THAT time in September and even October if you must, to really make sure students understand and can follow routines and rules. I promise you, it's so WORTH IT.

Relationships with students and between students are so very important. You want to create that sense of COMMUNITY from DAY ONE. You want to make sure all your students feel welcome and comfortable in their classroom. I find MORNING MEETINGS and RESTORATIVE CIRCLES (more on these in posts to come) to be great ways to create and foster relationships in the classroom.

Taking that extra minute to check on a student who hasn't been themselves, or asking about their weekend is something so simple to do, but can make such a BIG DIFFERENCE. Sharing about yourself is also important. The kiddies LOVE to know about their teacher, especially cool and funny things! It's also important to give positive reinforcement. I make it a point to keep track of my positive messages to students and their families to ensure that I don't forget anyone. Yes, you will need to reprimand students at times, but don't forget to tell them how much you appreciate them and praise them when they do something great. FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE!

Open communication with parents is also crucial. Once again, be sure to send positive messages home frequently. Parents love to hear that their child is doing something well. With apps like Seesaw and Class Dojo, it's so quick and easy to send a quick note home. When families need to talk, LISTEN. Show support and follow up with them. It takes a village to raise these children. The more open and cooperative you are with families, the easier it'll be to help the kiddies grow!

Last, but certainly not least, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF TOO! This professions we're in is challenging and takes a lot out of us emotionally, psychologically, and physically. We do it because we are passionate, and we love the children, but let's not forget to LOVE OURSELVES too. We won't be the best teachers we can be if we don't take time for ourselves and burn out.

We spend so much time taking care of our kiddies and being solicited by so many little ones all day, that we forget that we need to feel good too. Don't feel guilty about taking some time for yourself. Put the corrections aside and read a good book. Go for a walk, grab a drink with a friend, or do whatever it is that makes YOU happy and relaxed.

I have been back in the gym for several months now, and plan to continue once school starts. This will give me the energy I need to keep up with my little firsties and second graders in my split class this year. I am also going to make sure I eat and sleep right. We get soooooo tired in September and stay up late planning, and wake up early trying to get to school to prep things. This usually results in being very sleepy and making bad food choices because we are just too exhausted to cook. Exercise, enough sleep, and healthy food will ensure that Back to School doesn't wear you down too much.

Don't be afraid to lean on your peers and ask for help. We can't do this job alone and we shouldn't have to. Communication and sharing with teaching partners can make everything so much more fun and well, EASY!

There is a lot to consider and remember in the first few weeks of school. Just keep in mind that you CAN take your time, you CAN have some fun,  and you CAN take care of yourself.

Have a great year friends!
Until next time...

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