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Three Rules for the First Week of School!
July 09, 2013

The first week of school sets the pace for the entire rest of the year!

Starting in mid-July, teachers usually begin to focus on the new school year fast approaching. When I was teaching, I’d give myself the month of June and the first two weeks of July to enjoy the summer and think of anything but teaching. Then, I’d start thinking about the new school year, my class management strategies, and my lesson plans. No matter where or what you teach, however, the first week of school is the most important!

The first week of school sets the entire pace for the rest of the year and you only get one shot at it, just like first impressions.

There are three fundamental things you must do during the first week of school:

  • Set expectations

  • Explain your classroom routines

  • Establish positive rapport with the students

How do you set expectations?

You set classroom expectations by going over your syllabus with the students on the first day of class. You read each section aloud and pause often to illustrate main points with examples or to inquire if there are any questions. You require students to sign the syllabus and take it home for their parents to sign. Bringing the signed syllabus back to class during the first week of school should be the first graded assignment for students. Tell your students that this is their chance to start off the school year with an A+! Make copies of the signed syllabus and keep a copy for yourself.

How do you explain classroom routines?

As you read the syllabus aloud, take the time to explain your classroom routine carefully, making sure everyone understands. Regular, consistent classroom routines keep you organized and allows students to know what to expect day-to-day. This equals a higher chance of success for all involved.

How do you establish positive rapport with the students?

Establishing positive rapport with the students is as important during the first week of school as setting expectations and explaining classroom routines. Here are some ways to insure smooth sailing during the first week of school:
  • Get to class early and chat with students as you set up.

  • Put the class name and number on board in bold letters so those who are in wrong place can leave before you begin.

  • Learn students names as quickly as possible; use tools if necessary.

  • Stick around after class if someone wants to talk to you individually.

  • Students form a lasting opinion of the class and especially of you within the first fifteen minutes of the class. Make sure you are enthusiastic during the first class.

    Be excited about:

  • The content to be learned and its value
  • Your desire to teach
  • How much you want the students to succeed
  • The students
  • The learning process that will take place both in the classroom and outside of class's

The right preparation for the first week of school determines your success throughout the whole year. Take the time now while you are still enjoying the freedom of summer to slowly ease you way back into the new school year. Waiting until just before school starts to prepare is a recipe for disorganization and chaos!

Good luck & remember to have fun!

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