First Day of School Schedule August 27 2009

The First Day of School is, at best, wonderfully chaotic. And I have always been nervous about it. I usually have dreams the week before that very important first day where I’ve arrived at my classroom and have forgotten something important.

Like pants.

Obviously I have some anxiety about the first day. Planning makes me feel better, so I try to be as detailed as possible when it comes to the schedule for the day. And I mean by the minute. Some activities will be too short and some will take more time than I anticipated, but the structure of the schedule gives me flexibility to adjust as needed. Plus, whatever activities I don’t get to are available for use during the rest of the week.

There are important elements to consider when building this incredibly detailed schedule.

Consider The Breaks

Figure out when Lunch and Recesses happen during the day, as well as any specials such as PE or Music. Look for patterns, and observe if there are any of those strange, spare times of the day, like the ten minutes between when Music ends and Recess begins. Have something in mind for these strange blocks of time, like a read aloud, a name game, or a version of hi/lo.

Drilling Routine

You know your preferences for how you want your classroom to run and how you want kids to behave. But your students don’t, which is part of what makes September so exhausting. Figure out two or three routines that are really important to you, such as how you want to get you students’ attention and how you want them to show you that they’re paying attention to you. Another hot topic is putting together classroom rules, which you may want to plug into mid-morning before too much time goes by. Plug in teaching times for these routines throughout the day.

Short and Sweet

Your students have had the entire summer to relax their brains, and they need to train them to be at school again. Consider using mini-lessons to fit into 20 minute blocks of time, especially the first week of school. This will help ease the transition into the school year for both them and you, and will keep the days moving along. 

Afternoon Activities

When looking at blocks of time in your schedule, consider that your students will be pretty restless by the last hour of the day. Teach routines and rules earlier in the day, but leave some of the get-to-know-you activities for the afternoon, along with some art projects during that first week. This will help their brains process all of the new information they’ve taken in.

Example Schedule

8:20 Kids Begin Arriving. Greet at the door, instructing them to read the overhead carefully, and put supplies where overhead indicates. Have small prizes for students who finish that process correctly to encourage others. Goal is for everyone to get a small prize!

8:30 – Last Bell Rings. Have a worksheet (beginning of year wordfind or get-to-know-you questionnaire) for kids to work on while others put supplies away.

8:45 – Lunch Count; discuss morning routine from now on

8:55 – First name game; get-to-know-you game

9:15 – 5 Symbols about me

9:35 - Hand out check registers; lesson on class money system

10:00 Teach recess procedure; go to bathrooms on the way to and from recess

10:05 Recess

10:25 Back in classroom; Rules Discussion first in groups

10:35 Rules Discussion as whole class – top 5 rules

10:45 Decide on top 3 to 5 rules; class fines and rewards tomorrow!

12:05 LUNCH

12:40 Back in classroom; Teacher Read Aloud “Memory Box” story

1:00 Discussion of symbols and idea of keeping a memory box; hand out and explain assignment for them to bring in their own symbols to share with the class, take questions

1:30 Hi/lo of summer

2:00 Self Portrait with Glyphs - Have worksheet (similar to morning) for those who finish

2:35 Clean Up, discuss how to be ready to go for the day

2:45 Dismissal

No matter how anxious I may be about the first day, it usually goes very well. The funniest part of the first day is when the kids have gone and I’m in my classroom, alone at my desk. I suddenly realize, no matter how many years I’ve been teaching, that I have to come back again the next day.