The first day of school is an exciting and stressful time for teachers everywhere. Although we look forward to meeting our new students, it is stressful to realize that the rest of the year hinges on getting them off to a good start.
It’s no wonder that many teachers sleep poorly at the beginning of a new term. They spend restless nights worrying whether they will ever be ready for school to begin, pondering what to teach on that first day, wondering whether their students will like them, and thinking about what to do if they don’t.
Your first day of class with your new students is one that you will always remember. Every experience will be new and intense. If you are like other teachers, you will be exhausted at the end of the day. With careful planning and attention to detail, however, having a fantastic first day can be one of the most meaningful tasks you will accomplish all year.
There are many things you can do to handle the jitters that a new school term can bring, even for the most self-assured teacher. To calm yourself, try a few of the tips from this list:
- Accept the fact that you will feel nervous and excited on the first day of school. Many veteran teachers feel that way, too. Denying your concerns will not help you deal successfully with them.
- Boost your confidence by dressing well. Teachers traditionally dress up a bit on the first day—even the ones who slouch around in jeans before school starts.
- Pack a good lunch, and force yourself to eat it when lunchtime arrives. Avoid having too much caffeine at breakfast.
- Ride to work with a colleague, if you can. Carpooling on the first day will give you a chance to share your fears and provide mutual support.
- Pack your book bag the night before and leave it by the door so you can just grab it as you leave.
- Prepare a seating chart. One easy and effective way to do this is to assign a number to each student on the roster, then place a number on top of each desk or on each seat. As you greet students at the door, ask for their names, tell them their numbers, and direct them to find their seats. You will also match faces to names quickly in this way.
- Look over the list of your students’ names one last time the night before school starts. You will feel better if you can pronounce them correctly.
- Plan more work than you believe your students can possibly accomplish, then plan some more. It is truly terrifying to run out of work for your students on the very first day of school.
- Have extra supplies on hand so that every student can complete assignments with no trouble.
- Arrive early. You don’t have to be so early that you help the custodians unlock the building, but you should be early enough that you don’t feel rushed in finishing any last-minute chores.
- Finally, you can comfort yourself with these two reminders:
- The chances of disruptions are slim on the first day; students tend to be on their very best behavior during the first few days of school.
- The most stressful part of your day will probably be sometime in the first half-hour of class, when you realize that your students are nervous, cooperative, pleasant and depending on you.