In 2nd grade, my teacher greeted each student on the first day of school with a pencil case bearing our name and showed us individually to our seats, as if we were honored guests. In 6th grade, I was the new kid (in a K-8 school) and was awkwardly presented to my classmates after an hour of nerve-wracking orientation. On my first day as a college freshman, there was little fanfare but lots of intimidating syllabi and professors. Recalling each of these days stirs up varying feelings for me, but I remember each of them vividly. Like me, many of your students will look back on their first day of school for years to come, so it’s worth trying to make it a unique, and hopefully positive, experience.
For preschool and kindergarten teachers, calming kids’ nerves is often the most important part of their first day. Put them at ease with kid-friendly jokes and books that help students cope with their first-day jitters. In elementary and high school classrooms, students will arrive with expectations of the day and of you. Once their biggest concern is addressed – who will I be sitting next to? – make the day all about getting to know one another in creative ways. Building a good rapport doesn’t happen in a day, but it does start on day one.
Teachers, please share your first day of school traditions and tips in the comments section.