Just remember, we learn from our mistakes. So, if you’ve already made some of these (like others) it’s water under the bridge now. This year, the first day of school can be different.
And, if you’re new to teaching, I hope this list will help you plan out your first day so that it’s A LOT better than mine was!
1: Not greeting your pupils at the door
No matter how confident they seem on the outside, these pupils are at least a little nervous. Be there, at the door, with a gracious and helpful attitude to reassure them that you’re not scary, and they’re in the right place. A smile and a welcome go a long way to setting the right tone for the rest of the school year.
2: Not having a seating chart
Classroom management starts today and it’s not going to start smoothly if you have students milling around trying to figure out where to sit, fighting for the last seat in the row, or waiting to see where their friends sit first. If you feel like you need to justify a seating chart with your older students, use the very true and valid excuse that you need a seating chart so you can learn names more quickly*. And, do that as quickly as you can. If you don’t like the seating chart you can abandon it after learning names.
3: Reading through the syllabus
Save the syllabus for another day. This is your only chance to make a first impression, so maximize it. You know parents are going to ask them how the first day went. You want your name to be part of the answer to that question. Even if science is not their favorite subject, you want students to feel like it’s going to be a good class and they’re going to get something out of it.
4: Not being prepared
If your classroom is a mess – dirty and unorganized, textbooks and other items scattered around, broken desks, etc. – your students are not going to have confidence that you care about what you’re doing. Take time in the days before school starts to think about what they’ll see when they first walk into your room. Outline and practice what you’re going to say and have all your materials ready to go. Do what you can to show them that you’ve got your teacher act together. Believe me, students will pick up on this right away.
5: Not doing something to get your students excited about science
We all know science is the BEST. SUBJECT. EVER! Give them a little taste of what they’ll be learning or a peek into the lab – anything that gets those neurons firing. I like to have some awesome posters on the wall, a few pieces lab equipment out on lab tables and a maybe a model or two. Choose items that are related to topics you’ll be covering in the first grading period. Not too much. You want students to be intrigued, but not overwhelmed.