Now the summer is coming to an end, this question is on the mind of many teachers, especially new teachers. The answer will greatly depend on the demands of your school and district. Some schools require diving into the curriculum on day one. Thankfully, this is not a requirement at my school. Whether or not you are to "hit the books" immediately or not, you must take sufficient time to go over expectations and procedures. Then, practice, practice, practice. "But, how much practicing can we do?" More than you think. This is where you can be really creative and begin to bring in activities that will allow students to think about expectations, and practice procedures, while even assessing their abilities. Here are a few things I will be doing to ensure my students thoroughly understand what I expect of them:
Start with a discussion of expectations and procedures
* Show your students any charts you have (and you better have some for them to later refer to) on your expectations and procedures and discuss each point completely. Ask for examples, and clarify and expand where needed
* On poster paper, document your student's responses
Enrich, expand, and assess
* act-out situations in which they demonstrate appropriate behavior
* Create posters and drawings of them behaving correctly and following the expectations
* Create mini-books that explain each expectation
* Design a diorama depicting appropriate behavior
Depending on your different procedures, practice how you expect students to do things. This might include:
* Where/how to turn in homework
* How to line up and walk in line
* Where to place un-finished work
If you teach character traits, I would also begin on this immediately. Look for any literature you can use to show acceptable (or unacceptable) behavior so you can have deep conversations of the behavior. I like to use Chrysanthemum because not only can we discuss teasing, uniqueness, and neighborly behavior, but I like throw in a little math with this as well. I have my students count the number of letters in their name and we chart it. For homework, they chart the number of letters in the name of their family members. It's a great way to start the year, and you can easily integrate a few subjects with it.
The important thing to remember is that the first weeks of school will set the tone for the rest of the school year. If you want it to be the best, you have to make it the best.