Even as an adult, it is hard to forget that feeling of the first day of the new school year, whatever that feeling was for you. Sure, some enjoyed it, but most were met at the school doors with feelings of apprehension, fear, nervousness, anxiety, and the stark reality that summer vacation was truly over! No more pool parties, endless hours playing video games, hanging out with friends, and of course sleeping in late.
The fear of the unknown plays a major factor in those “butterflies in the stomach” feelings. What will my teacher really be like this year? Who will be in my class? Will my friends be there? Will a bully be a problem? How challenging are my new studies? There are a lot of mysteries that make that first day so scary that it still wired into our adult memories.
And while the first day is a great opportunity to jump feet first into the new curriculum, it is also a great occasion to ease a student into a productive school year by eliminating some of that anxiety so they can focus on their core subjects and start off with a positive impression of your class.
Lead with the Good Stuff
Talk about the coming school year and get them excited about learning. Are there any field trips planned that tie into the curriculum? Those history lessons might be more memorable knowing that they will actually get to see a battlefield reenactment, aircraft carrier, or museum artifacts. Will there be guest speakers at the school? Will you do your own reenactment with students? Are there rewards for learning achievements once a month or semester they can look forward to?
Fun Filled Writing
Turn that How I Spent My Summer Vacation essay into How I WISH I Spent My Summer Vacation. Experiment with fantasy, Sci-Fi fiction, or drama. Spin a tall tale. Not only does it add some fun and creativity to the day but it also gives some needed quiet time to compose their story, while you get a break as well.
Share Your Own Story With Your Students
Let them hear how you spent your summer vacation. It’s a way for your students to get to know you. You have far more experience than they do, and they can benefit from what you can share. I don’t think many of us know enough about our teachers to fully appreciate them as a person instead of just as a teacher. And the ones we did really strengthened our bond to them.
Something To Look Forward To
You have handed out your syllabus, textbooks, assigned homework, and maybe even collected summer projects or reading assignments. Plan a pizza party for the first Friday of the school year: A light at the end of the tunnel for that first week. With great work comes great reward. Just breaking past that first week of school is an achievement. That is often where the anxiety is left…if they can only make it through. Extra cheese helps!
Time capsules don’t have to be opened 50 years from now. Plan one for the end of the school year. Ask students to bring in something they are willing to part with temporarily. Write some stories about what they want to achieve this school year. Will they join a club, travel somewhere, become the star athlete, or be at the head of the class? Ask them to write an anonymous silly fact about themselves and then read them at the end of the year. Maybe they can guess who’s belongs to whom.
How do you create a positive environment in your classroom on the first day? Tell us in the comments section below. We love to share with other teachers out there.
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