Sunday, August 30, 2015

To You on Your First "First Day" of School (As a Teacher)

I'm sitting here preparing for the first day of school. On my list is to write a note to the teacher I'm mentoring. It's her first "First Day of School" as a teacher. As I think about what to say to her, I reflect on my first "First Day" and I think about what I'd tell my "first year teacher self" on this First Day Eve. Here's some tips on your First "First Day" as a Teacher...

1. You are ready. It may not feel like it. You will check and re-check your plans a million times, but you've prepared for this moment. You got it!

2. Smile. Enjoy yourself! You set the tone in your classroom, so make it a positive and joy-filled place to be. 

3. Breathe. There's so much to do and I know you want to do it all perfectly. Those students deserve the best teacher you can be! Breathe. In. Out. In. Out. What doesn't get done today, will get done tomorrow!

4. You are not perfect and that's ok! Be authentic, not perfect. We all make mistakes. You'll make a couple yourself. Be honest with the students. Be yourself. Own it when you mess up. 

5. Remember it's their first day too. Whatever tiny detail that got missed...the students won't notice! They are busy with their own stress and worry and excitement for their own first day.

6. Take a First Day of School picture!!! It may sound silly, but you'll want it in later years. 

7. Use the rest room before the day begins.

8. Ask for help. Depend on your teammates! We've all been there before and we want to help.

9. Enjoy the butterflies! Those nervous and excited butterflies in your stomach signal so many things...anxiety, anticipation, excitement!!! 

10. Take a moment to stop and notice. This day will fly by so quickly...when you get a moment, stop and look around. Look into the faces sitting before you. Jot down the funny things said. Remember this's the beginning of a life long journey!

Any other words of wisdom?!?! Please share! Have a wonder-filled first day!


  1. This may piggy-back on #4, but it reflects a conversation I had with a colleague today who is in her first few days in a new job: Never compromise your ethics, and never compromise a child. Very often, leaders in education ask teachers to comply to their ways of management, and management often drifts further and further away from what's best for kids. Take care never to be someone you aren't, or that you wouldn't want your kids to be. :)

  2. Just the best advice, Michelle, every one. But, and there is a but, I would say number five is the most important, keep the students in mind first, and everything will be terrific. Then, for the future, number ten. Pause and remember, there is only one first day! Mine was so long ago I don't exactly remember it, but I still remember some of the students, sweet little first graders that I loved and taught to read, my first joy to bring books that they would love to them. Best of all my wishes to you and to your mentee!

  3. A few more pieces of advice:
    1) The "loudest" kids will take most of your time in the first weeks of school. Pay attention to the kids who follow the rules (aka: the easy ones) too. They're often so easy-going that they don't ask for help.
    2) Remember to eat lunch sitting down. Every. Single. Day. It helps your digestion and also allows you to maintain some normalcy.
    3) If the faculty room isn't a positive place, seek out other like-minded colleagues to eat with. It helps to have adult contact when you're working with kids all day.
    4) Your inbox will always be full, so to speak. Be sure to get enough sleep so you don't burn yourself out. You're a valuable commodity.

  4. Celebrate the small things and hold on to them tightly, for those are the things that will get you through. And of course I would have to say...have a Diet Coke on hand! :)

    1. I don't drink Diet Coke during the summer at all, but as soon as I get back in my classroom, I get a craving for one. Ha. I drink one every day during lunch. ;-)

  5. The first day will go by fast. Keep the students in the focus. It's not so much what you do, but what they do and how they feel by the end of the day. Approach them as if they were the biggest gift you received, and you will be a gift for them. Breathe, breathe, breathe.

  6. Great first day pieces of advice! I wrote my Slice of Life about new teachers today. Such a BIG deal to be a first day teacher!

  7. Great advice to save. Every year I have those first year feelings. These tips help us all. Hope your first days went well!


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