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. Yes, summer vacation is over already. 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. Since summer has ended many are looking forward to coming back to school but they’re still in vacation mode, so I have to think of something to keep them interested and busy. I have a few tips that will help you get off to a good start
A Tip for Learning Names
Kids love it when you know their names, you can put name tags on desks and have them say their name when they ask or answer a question. But, my best friend for ther first few days is a seating chart. I carry it around with me and I usually learn the names within the first three days or so.
Opening Lockers is a Challenge
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.
Play a SCOOT Game
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.
Directions: Write questions on 3 by 5″ cards. Pass out blank sheets of lined paper, have them write their names on it.
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.
Getting to Know Each Other
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 as I think to myself,”Summer vacation IS over already.”
Of course, you’ll also need to spend time teaching them the ropes, what’s acceptable, what isn’t. Have a great first day that paves the way for a wonderful new school year.
I’m here to help
If there’s anything that I can help you with to make teaching easier this year, let me know in the comments below or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Would also love suggestions for Middle School resources in Ancient History/ELA that you could use for your classroom. If I use your suggestion and make the resource, you’ll get it for free.
Peace and Blessings
You might be interested in this Behavior Modifiction Binder
Here are some links with ideas that you can use for the beginning of school
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.