Someone posted on Facebook that August is like Sunday for teachers! We’re elated when the weekend comes around, and love Saturday, it’s one of our fun days, but then the dreaded Sunday comes, you have to correct papers, do lesson plans, and go to bed at a reasonable hour, you know the routine. How depressing is that?!!! Then there’s the month of August, it just seems to zooooom by and before you know it your summer vacation is like a dream. Buuut you do love teaching, it’s your calling. So read on for some first day teaching tips.
I’ve been there so many times, as a 6th grade teacher, you’d think it would get easier. It doesn’t really, and the first day IS the hardest for me. If you’re anything like me, you think about learning names, that’s when I walk around with my seating chart, by the end of the 3rd day, I pretty much know everyone’s name.
In middle school, my new charges have to learn how to open their locker. I give them a hand out with an image of a lock and how to open it. Of course I do a class lesson, with locker in hand and show them, step by step how it works. I have a bunch of locks I’ve collected over the years, that I pass out and have kids work in pairs to help each other. This helps to avoid tears of frustration that I used to see with a few kids. Amazing that this is such a big deal for your new 6th graders.
The first day has it’s other challenges, like what to do with the kids while waiting for them to change classes. I usually play a SCOOT game where they have to answer questions about themselves and write them on paper, first we listen to the song “Getting to Know You” from King and I, we talk about it’s meaning and then we play. This is the perfect ice-breaker that takes up some time, engages students and helps them get to know each other.
Place a card with questions on each desk. Kids move from desk to desk and write their answer on paper.
Teacher says SCOOT and each child moves to the next desk, they continue in this manner till they’ve answered all questions and are back at their own desk.
They can use their answer sheet to write an essay about themselves, or teacher can collect them.
A great ice breaker that my kids love, is to go around the room and have everyone say their name. For example, Jacob says his name, the next person says Jacob and their own name (Abigail), the third person says Jacob, Abigail and their own name, this continues until everyone has had a chance, and now, it’s the teacher’s turn to say all the names. To make it more challenging, have them say their name and something about themselves.
Another fun activity is to have your class fill out a family tree, it not only engages their parents, but helps you get to know them. The children can share their finished product and tell the class something about members of their family. You can then display them on your bulletin board.
Next, we accompany our students to specials that include either PE, art, sewing, metal or wood shop. At the end of specials, kids are gathered, we switch groups, and I’ll go through a similar routine with them..
When they return to homeroom later in the day, I’ll usually read a picture book about belonging, it’s the beginning of the year after all, and I want them to feel like they’re part of the group. We discuss the theme and perhaps draw a picture or cartoon about what they learned, or how they could make someone feel like they belong. Then it’s time to get ready for the buses and the first day is over, I breathe a huge sigh of relief.
Of course, you’ll also need to spend time teaching them the ropes, what’s acceptable, what isn’t. But that’s for another day and another blog post. Have a great first day that paves the way for a wonderful new school year.
This post is part of our August Teacher Talk. Be sure to click the links below to see all the FAB tips and ideas from our other members.