New Teacher’s Toolkit: First Days

From the day school starts, you’ll probably have about a three day grace period when most children are going to be on their best behavior. After that they’ll  start to relax, and once they feel more comfortable, you can expect them to begin testing the rules, and you.

Use your grace period to teach the basic procedures the children need to know to make everyday classroom life run smoothly. For instance: how to line up, how to walk through hallways, how to move chairs, how to circle up (outside and in the meeting area), how the bathroom procedure works, what to do at arrival and dismissal times, and how to respond to your classroom’s signal for quiet attention.

You want to teach these routines right away for several reasons:

  1. Students feel competent and secure when they how to do things.
  2. Your classroom will be calmer and more orderly. You’ll have more time for learning once these routines are in place.
  3. When children start testing the limits, you’ll already have established expectations.

Use Interactive Modeling to teach classroom procedures, giving the children opportunities to practice, first when you introduce the procedure and then again each time they use it.

Here’s a video of Caltha Crowe and her third grade class, showing her using interactive modeling to teach her students about the signal for quiet, and then, later in the day, showing how she has them practice. (The clip is from The First Day of School DVD, which is a great resource if you want to see what the first day of school looks like in the classroom of a masterful Responsive Classroom teacher!)

A few things to think about:

What do you notice about how Caltha teaches the quiet signal? What procedures and routines will you teach your students in the very first days of school?

Interactive Modeling: A Powerful Technique for Teaching Children, by Margaret Berry Wilson, provides step-by-step guidance on how to use Interactive Modeling. Includes many practical tips, real-life examples, and sample lessons and scripts that you can adapt for specific classroom needs.

Tags: First Day of School