The new school year will sneak up on us before we know it. It’s never too soon to start planning out and preparing for the first week of school. Knowing what you need to have completed and what procedures to have in place will set you up for success. Let’s dive in!
Why is the First Week of School so Important?
The first week of school sets the tone for the rest of the school year. Students will be looking to you to see what expectations, rules, and procedures you have in place. They will get a gist of how their school year will go. Additionally, they’ll start making connections with you and their new classmates. The more organized and prepared you are, the better students will be able to acclimate to their new classroom environment.
How Can a Teacher Prepare for the First Week of School?
This post contains affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may make a commission. This is at no additional cost to you. You can also click images to shop directly!
1. Create a Welcoming & Calm Classroom Environment
As you are preparing for back-to-school season, you’ll probably start brainstorming classroom decor ideas. One thing to keep in mind is that you want to create a space for your students that is calming, welcoming, and clutter-free. Make sure to have bulletin boards ready for your students’ work to be displayed, a schedule posted somewhere visible, and a cozy classroom library space. Classroom decorations can be colorful and beautiful, without being overstimulating. Remember that you will have all types of learners in your room–including those that are easily distracted.
Shop Classroom Themes & Decor:
2. Get Organized!
According to this article, a study conducted by The Princeton University Neuroscience Institute found that a clean and tidy study space is crucial to academic success. Disorganization and clutter actually makes it more difficult for the brain to focus, causing increased anxiety and stress. Meanwhile, a clutter-free learning environment increases productivity.
With that being said, the last thing we want is to start off the school year with a messy classroom and an anxious state of mind. We want our students to feel comfortable in their space as well. Make sure your classroom supplies are organized, your papers are sorted, and unnecessary items are out of sight. Having a spot for everything helps take the guesswork out of locating supplies for both you and your students. These fun colorful, editable supply labels will help keep everything looking neat and tidy too. Organization is key to preparing for a successful first week of school.
3. Plan the Routines & Procedures for your Classroom
Consider the routines & procedures that will make your classroom run smoothly. Make a list of everything you will need to review with your students during that first week. Think of schedules, behavior management systems, supply & work procedures, attention getters. Having your routines and procedures set from day one gives students the expectations that they must meet.
For younger students and students with learning accommodations, consider adding visuals to your routines and procedures. This helps all students understand what is required.
4. Plan your Classroom Management System(s)
Implementing a strong classroom management system from the first day of school will ensure that the rest of the school year runs smoothly. Start brainstorming what kinds of systems you will use to reinforce positive behaviors in your classroom. What kinds of rewards will you use? How will you monitor and address poor behaviors? Will you use a different method for individual students and whole-group behaviors?
In this article, you’ll find a complete guide on classroom management and dealing with student misbehaviors. I’ve also compiled a list of 15 Tools for Effective Classroom Management.
FREE Reward Coupons
A great classroom management tool that students LOVE & saves teachers from having to refill a treasure chest or treat box each week!
5. Plan Out ‘Get to Know You’ Back-to-School Activities
Just like teachers, students are nervous the first day of school. Chances are, you might have some students that are new to the school. They might not know anyone in their class. Having ‘Get to Know You’ ice breaker activities prepared for the first week of school is a great way to start building classroom community from day one.
With this fun classmate scavenger hunt, students will walk around the room trying to find a classmate to fit each description. This activity will even get your most timid students to participate.
6. Make Sure Everything is Ready!
Finally, make sure all of your copies and activities are ready for the week. The last thing you want is to be scrambling around trying to find things. Have a set place for your copies so they are easily accessible.
If students will be bringing in their supplies the first day of school, make sure to have empty bins labeled and ready to go! Have sharpies on hand so that students can label their notebooks and individual supplies.
5 Things to Remember for the First Day of School
1. Sleep is Important
Try to go to bed early so you’re all rested up for your first day. You may want to stay up late stressing about the details of your upcoming first day, but getting rest will serve you best.
2. Arrive Early
Arrive at school early to be sure you are prepared. Getting to school early helps you skip out on the traffic and prevent feeling panicked. You’ll have extra time to tidy up and to just sit and relax for a few minutes.
3. Be Patient
Be patient with your students and yourself. You are both learning to exist in a new space together. It will take time for things to flow smoothly for both of you, and that’s okay.
4. Introduce Yourself to Your New Coworkers
It’s important to have a friendly face to spot in the hallways. As teachers, we need others that we can collaborate, ask questions, and talk with. Introduce yourself to other professionals in your building and greet them with a smile.
5. You Did It!
As long as everyone feels accepted, is fed, and makes it home safely, you can call it a successful day! The first day of school is overwhelming for teachers and students alike, so if you made it through, consider it a win!
I hope that these tips will help you prepare for this back-to-school season and the first week of school. May this school year be the best year ever!