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Five Things to Remember for the First Day of School

Bonjour! My name is Kaitlyn Reid and I am your guest blogger this week! I am a Core French teacher in a small rural town in Ontario and love everything about languages! You can find me on Facebook and you can find me on Instagram.

How has it come to that time of year already again?! It feels like we just started our summer vacation, yet here we are either getting ready to start very soon or in a few weeks. As exciting and nerve wracking the first day of school is for students, it is the same for teachers alike. 

Each year we plan something different and great. Sometimes I feel like we have no clue what we are getting into again, starting all over with new routines and new students. Yet, this is such an exciting day to welcome everyone back for another year!

Each year, with experience, the first day of school gets a bit easier. We understand setting routine, getting to know our students, and starting to build those important relationships. 

Whether it is your first year teaching or you are many years in, here are a few ideas of things to remember for the first day of school!

Greet Your Students!

One of my favourite things about the first day of school is that you get to see all of the students again after months of vacation. I love going out on the school yard and to have the chance to interact with them and ask them questions about their summer. When the students enter the classroom, it is also nice to greet them at the door, especially if you did not have the chance to see them in the school yard. Greeting your students first thing helps welcome them back to school and make them feel welcomed. Greeting students is another way to also start to build those important relationships.

Play a Name Game

If you are in a small school like myself, many of the students probably already know their classmates. If you are in a bigger school, they may not know everyone. If you have new students who have joined your school, they may not know anyone and this is a great way to get to know each other. There are many name games out there, just choose one! This is also a fun way to practice their French if they have not spoken much French over the summer. One of my favorite name games is to do two truths and a lie about things that they like. They start off with “Bonjour! Je m’appelle ____.” and the class responds with “Bonjour ____.” The student then tells the class three things that they like with one being a lie, for example, “J’aime les chats. J’aime la couleur rouge. J’aime jouer au hockey.” Students then can guess which one is the lie. This is an easy, low risk activity and a great way to get them speaking French once again! Have older students? Make the games more complicated for them!

Rules

Rules are important to go over, but don’t make them a big part of your day. Go over the main rules of the class and the overall expectations of your classroom. Make sure to explain everything very clearly to the point where you think you are going overboard. After that, the best way to reinforce the rules is to model them and practice them. How are students going to transition in different areas? How are they expected to behave in the hall when moving from one place to another? Teach the rules, model it, practice it, repeat.

Getting Students Organized

On the first day, I like to go through their schedule and what to expect during class. I hand out any materials that they will need or books that they will use over the next few days. I let students label their own items as it saves me a lot of time to not have to label hundreds of items but it is also a great way to let them take on some responsibility for their items. At this time, I show them the bins that I use for collecting their work that is complete. I also show them the bin of the extra copies of work if they missed a day of school. Over my years of teaching, I have found that putting the extra copies in a bin rather than in their desk means that they will find the copy of the work as some desks become a black hole very quickly! It also puts the responsibility on the student to check in to see what they have missed and to make sure that they are organized. I don’t introduce technology on the first day of school because it can be chaotic to get everything else done and organized for the day.

Breathe!

Remember, whether you are a first year teacher or an experienced teacher, the day may go exactly as you planned or it may not (and that’s okay!). This year coming, we don’t know what the cards will hold for us – in person, online, a mix? Who knows! All I know is that we need to breathe! Enjoy the day welcoming back your students; enjoy the time with them. Activity goes great? Celebrate it! Activity goes oh-not-so well? Move on and reflect later! We are human and we are doing the best that we can. Enjoy the first day, it only comes once a year. Relax, do the activities that you planned, say your goodbyes at the end of the day, and celebrate the fact that you are back for another year to make a big impact in these students’ lives.

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