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  • Writer's pictureSarah

First Day of Class Ideas

Updated: Aug 27, 2023

First day of class planning can feel overwhelming when you are thinking of all the fun you can have and all the material you need to get through. Do not rush through things, allow your students time to process new procedures and expectations. Allow time for fun the first few days as well. Generally, a well planned first day of class will have students engaged and excited to walk through the door again tomorrow.

First day of class!! Get to know your students activities

I believe that students who feel safe and heard the first day of class will behave better for their teachers throughout the school year. Therefore, building that relationship with your students is priority one, starting on day one. Day one you are setting the tone for how the year will run. A few ideas to begin are you can play games, have students fill out "About Me" papers, create flip-grid videos the kids could record answers to different questions, or lastly make name plates for the students to display to help you remember their name.

Read more here on my post "10 Get to Know You Activities"

My Personal Favorite

First Day of Class Activities:

  • “2 Truths and 1 Lie”.

I love that activity because the kids come up with some pretty silly statements. It is light and easy, therefore not very intimidating for students. The kids feel comfortable sharing out their 3 statements. It allows students to share experiences without feeling like they are bragging.

  • "All About ME" papers are informative. Furthermore, the students are most honest about their parents, home life, and even their parents preferred method of contact. This will prove to be a great asset later. Give them a chance to tell you about themselves.

Parent Contact Log Template

First Day of Class

Ice Breaker Activities

It is important that you know your students. If you want students to communicate during lessons then getting to know their peers is also important. The first day of class is the best time, as students have yet to develop any judgment or bias about their peers. Allow students to walk around the room and meet their classmates. This will get them familiar with students they may have never met before. Students need to feel safe in your room to learn best, this includes feeling safe to fail in front of their peers.

Review Classroom Expectations

What classroom expectations and classroom rules should you use? Expectations vary by teacher. I have taught 8-12th grade, and as much as you would assume that the students “know how to behave in a classroom”, you might be surprised. With every teacher they have had there have been different expectations and different rules. Every teacher has patience for different behaviors, different expectations going into the school year, and different personalities. These differences make it difficult for students to truly understand their expectations when they walk through your classroom door. It is important for you to figure out how you would like your classroom to run. Read below to help set up and establish your own classroom rules.

How to Set Up Classroom Rules

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before the first day of class:

  • What behaviors will you absolutely not put up with? Those are your big rules. Examples could be you can't handle kids walking around the room, you want everyone to be quiet while you are talking, you require kind words and kind hands.

  • What behaviors will you allow that require permission? These are your “needs permission” before you may do them. Examples could be getting up to sharpen a pencil, ways to ask to use the restroom, and talking.

  • What are the behaviors that you expect of students as procedures? These are your daily procedures that students will learn. Examples of this would be how they turn their work into you, how to ask questions, how to answer questions, and even getting materials out to use. These are the day to day items that the kids must do to organize the chaos.

Once you answer these types of questions, then you will be able to outline your own classroom rules to go over these the first day of class. It is important to make the rules short and sweet and always worded in a positive manner.

Examples of how to word your rules:

If you don't want kids walking around the room you would say your rule is “Students are to be in seats during lesson time”. Short, sweet, and positively worded as the behavior you desire from students.

You should only make around 5 rules, as this makes it easy for the kids to remember. They can be “umbrella” rules. For example: Rule 1- Be a Kind Person, this could include keeping your hands to yourself, using nice words, or even sharing supplies.

Find some great Classroom Expectation & Classroom Rules Poster HERE

Set up & Practice Group Work Expectations

If you have time the first day of class, if not then use it day 2, set up groups and have them complete a few tasks. Tasks can focus on group work skills. Students can practice talking to each other, listening to each other, and working as a unit. The group should create something or complete a task, so students can talk about problem solving and discussions.

I love the “100 Numbers to get Students Talking” by Sara Vanderwerf, click here for that. It is a great way to model what group work should look and sound like with a concept that the students feel confident in completing. I have used it in the past and it is wonderful to have those discussions after the activity about what group work was and what it was not.

Another first day of class activity would be to create a type of Group Crest or Name. The students could decide their top goals as a group and pick an animal or object to represent that. They could create a puzzle piece that then fits into that crest.

Evaluate Students Skills

Students Growth Mind-Set

In previous years I have had the students take the growth mindset questionnaire to help them self assess their growth mind-set. Consequently in math above other subjects, I feel that students have already communicated self doubt in addition to lack of skills either externally or internally. It is important that the students know that good mathematicians are not born, they are created from hard work and lots of failure. The questionnaire and discussion worked well. Additionally, here is a post that has “5 Free Growth Mind-Set Activities” by that look great. Have students write a letter to their future self to set up goals they can work for. Have students fill out a “hopes and dreams” outline to motivate them to stay focused and on task.

Need some Growth Mindset Ideas?

Setting students up to succeed requires setting the students up to fail, and them seeing that failure is a process to get to success. It can be difficult to get students to see this is the process for growth. Read more on ideas to get students into a growth mindset mentality read more at...

or get daily themed ideas at "Growth Mindset Every Day of the Week"

Growth Mindset Each Day of the Week10 Growth Mindset Activities for the Classroom

Assess Students Skill Ability

It is always a good idea, especially in math, to assess students' ability on the first day of class. The skills check can be short, over basic math skills that are important for this school year. I always give this out on the 1st or 2nd day and let students know it is a participation grade only. I ask them to be honest if they can't remember and do their best if they can. Collecting this data helps me see where there are gaps and what topics the students may have forgotten over the summer. Summer Slump is real!!! Finally, I will then work the refresher math skills into bell-work the next few classes. Although, with Covid-19 influencing the type of lessons my students have received in previous years, I am predicting I will find more gaps of concepts.

DOWNLOAD the FREE Pre-Algebra skills check sheet for assessing students skills before starting Pre-Algebra

You Can Do This!

The first day of class should be fun and exciting despite the first day nerves. Planning for the day can be overwhelming, however, the end goal is to get the kids motivated to learn and engage. Therefore, It is important for teachers to find their own voice and classroom management style that allows the class to run smoothly every day.

Let me know how your first day of class goes.

Share with me what activities and "Must do's you complete the first day of class.

Find your own favorite first day activity from above and share how it went with me in the comment section below. Hope everyone has a great first day!

Need some more ideas for the first few days of school? Click here to read "10 Get to Know Your Students Activities" post

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