George Lucas Educational Foundation
Professional Learning

Four Simple Tips to Start the Year Strong

Setting a positive, approachable tone in the classroom right away will pay off in the long run.

August 18, 2011

I've been teaching for nearly 10 years and I still get butterflies in my stomach the day before classes start. I can only imagine what my new students must be feeling as they come to school. The first day really sets the tone for the rest of the school year and I want these new students to feel welcomed and comfortable the minute they walk into my room. Here are four easy tips to create an awesome first day experience.

1. Greet every student at the door as they come in. A handshake, a wave or a smile are great ways to welcome students to class. That first impression is key. The students will feel comfortable the second they come in.

2. Make small talk with some of the students. Walk around and see what the kids did over the summer. Create an environment where friendly conversation is the norm from the very first day.

3. Introduce yourself. Provide some background on your teaching career, but also tell them about your personal likes and dislikes. I love to tell an embarrassing story from school. It lightens the mood for the class and I feel it's important for students to see me as a person and a teacher.

4. Pass out the syllabus and go over the class expectations. After creating a welcoming environment, go over the class rules. I find the students are more receptive when they are more comfortable.

These four tips help make the students more at ease on the first day and can establish a wonderful tone for the rest of the school year. I find that I use the first two tips almost every day to help maintain the environment created on the first day. If the kids feel comfortable, they will be ready to learn. Enjoy the first day of the year, and remember: They are just as scared as you are.

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  • Professional Learning
  • Classroom Management
  • New Teachers
  • Student Engagement

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