What's a teacher's number one goal for first day of school activities? I can't speak for others, but my goal is simple:
I want the children to buy into me completely as their
teacher / leader by the end of the day.
It starts before the first bell rings. By the end of the day my new group of students will think their new teacher is very special, that she's someone they want to know more about, and that she's someone they want to follow...and obey...for the rest of the year.
These little people need to know
their teacher really cares
By the end of the first week, I want each and every child to know deep in their hearts that I am personally thrilled to see them every day. By then, every one of them will be firmly in my pocket and happy to be there for the rest of the year.
That's how great classroom management starts in elementary school: With community. And communities happen because teachers take a leadership role...and add a bit of sparkle!
Our first day of school activities include building our classroom community, setting expectations and having a little fun. Every one of these objectives allows you a chance to showcase your "teacher personality."
These are young elementary children and they can be captivated by engaging personalities.
I call the personality that I show my children during first day of school activities (and every day after that) "sparkly." This means that I'm somewhat different from what they expect from a teacher and a little bit larger than life. In their eyes, I'm certainly different from what they're used to experiencing with their parents.
As I pointed out in response to a question on my Q&A page, everything I do is a tiny bit exaggerated, as if I'm an actor on a stage.
Just like a great actor, though, an effective teacher has a range of emotions that her students need to see. It's a balancing act and they need to experience a little taste of everything on the first day in school.
|A teacher with a one-dimensional emotional state will always be at a disadvantage.|
Elementary children pick up verbal and visual cues from your personality very easily. It's important to show them a range of emotions so they can sense when a mood has changed or a line has been crossed.
They need to see that sparkle, but they also need to see the hints of other emotions. At some point during the day, my new students will always see a little bit of the stern side of me. There will come a time when a child blurts out and I'll use that teachable moment to show that fun is the norm in my classroom, but we do it according to my rules, not theirs.
Instead of a lighthearted tone and twinkle in my eye, they suddenly hear silence, a deeper tone of voice and a correction before we move on and they see "Mrs. Sparkle" again.
In general, kids behave pretty well on the first day of school. That may not be true in all instances. In general, however, the students are nervous because they are facing unknown situations. Because they're a little off balance they tend to be on their best behavior.
First day of school activities will probably leave you exhausted...in a good way!
I find myself talking much more that I do on any other day of school. Setting expectations and practicing those expectations consistently takes a lot talking and a lot of energy.
That's where these first day of school ideas will help. Take a look and make your first day of school activities establish the pattern for a successful year.
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Days 1 through 5 Overview
Transitioning to "normal" days as quickly as possible
First Day in School Sparkle
Winning the hearts of your elementary students
First Day of School Tips: Handling Parents
Even in the midst of chaos, you can manage mom and dad!
First Day of School Anxiety
What's going on in those little heads?
First Day of School Activity
Last-minute student registration and the value of fire drill practice