Ep. 3: The First Day: Starting off on the Right Foot

Collaborative Teaching Episode 3 - The First Day - Starting off on the Right Foot.jpg

In the traditional first day on a secondary school campus, students file into their first class, receive the syllabus and learn the rules and procedures. Rinse and repeat. It's time to shake this up a bit. The first day is more than a rules and procedures day; it is a day to connect and establish our classroom climate and community. Listen or read on for some different ideas to start the first day off on the right foot. 

Alternative First Day Activities

These activities not only cultivate an engaged culture, but builds rapport between teachers and students as well as student to student. 

Stations Activity 

9 Stations:

  1. Get to Know You
    Questions to get to know their table group (who has the most siblings? Who is the most athletic? etc.)

  2. Who I Am
    Tell me what you like to do outside of school. Write or draw your answer

  3. Syllabus Scavenger Hunt
    As a group, students answer questions about my classroom. Their answers are based off of the syllabus.

  4. In a Realistic Dream World
    As a group, students answer questions about a realistic-perfect teacher, student, and classroom.

  5. Reading and Writing Survey
    A survey about their interest level with reading and writing.

  6. Take a Lap
    Students walk around the classroom, identifying the 5 most important items in the classroom as well as the 1 surprising element.

  7. Wall of Happiness
    Students decorate a flashcard. They write one thing that makes them happy in big bold letters. I put them up on a bulletin board the next day.

  8. Log into Google Classroom
    Students access Google Classroom - or any other important technology that will be utilized often in the classroom.

  9. Notebook Decorating
    I use notebooks in class and provide each of my students with a notebook, so this station gets the notebook in their hand and gives them time to decorate should they want to.

Letter to Students - 3 Things I Want my Students to Know

I write a letter to my students sharing 3 things I think are important for them to know about me. I follow the serious, obvious, lesser-known, and silly bonus fact model. 

  • Serious fact: I have three children with autism

  • Obvious fact: I love to read

  • Lesser-known fact: I am very forgetful

  • Silly bonus fact: I LOVE soda

Sharing these things with my students allows them to see me as a human and I become more relatable to them. And it builds, you guessed it, rapport!

After I read my letter to them, my students write me a letter detailing 3 things they want me to know about them. I get to know a little bit about them, as well as can get a glimpse to their writing ability and writing stamina. 

Scavenger Hunt

This is especially great for elective courses, such as Yearbook, newspaper or ASB. Students follow clues around the campus to find specific classrooms, offices and the like around the campus. It gets them familiar with the campus, as well as makes a great team building activity. 

What you need:  

  • Approximately 10 clues

  • Directions sheet - outline how they should proceed to find clues and answers. I make my students go in order and take pictures of themselves in front of each answer in order. Group members have to be in the pictures.

  • Worksheet for every student - answer questions about each clue


But, when do you teach rules and procedures?!?

Answer: As they become relevant. 

You do not have to go over every single procedure on day one. In fact, I think that is information overload. Explicitely teach only 2-3 new procedures a day for the first couple weeks, and then remind them of each procedure in subsequent days.