Tag Archives: first day

Why I don’t like the First Day of School

I see all of these teachers posting about how they love this time of year: a fresh start, new bulletin boards, room decorating, and greetings for students.

Not me, I woke up at 5 am, an hour early for no reason and today was only a PD day. I have stress eaten soooo much chocolate tonight and am sure that I won’t sleep well.

Tomorrow is the first day of school for students. I have serious anxiety over learning student names and forgetting the name of a random former student who stops in to say hi. I hate going over procedures, school rules, and expectations. I don’t like the stress of signing every student into Chromebooks for the first time. I don’t like that we don’t know each other yet and have no classroom community established. I feel stressed to create the perfect classroom climate to carry on throughout the year.

Yet I am prepared for tomorrow. I will be fine in the moment once I see the first student. In fact, I saw a couple of volleyball players today and that was a highlight of my day. The first day of school feels like going to a party where I don’t know anyone. It’s a bit terrifying.

Why am I sharing my anxiety? Because if an adult with two decades of teaching experience is nervous about the first day, imagine how most 6th graders (or whatever grade you teach) feel about their first day of school. They hope tomorrow will be a good day, but they are feeling a ton of pressure about the unknown.

  • How do I open my locker?
  • How do I keep track of which class to go to and when?
  • Will I like my teachers?
  • Am I ready for middle school work? Will it be too hard?
  • Will I have a friend in my classes or only strangers?
  • When do I go to the bathroom?
  • How do I get my lunch and who will I sit with?

So if you are the type of teacher who is super excited about the start of the school year, remember many of your students may be feeling more anxious than excited.

How will you make them feel safe and calm on their first day? How will you start a connection that grows throughout the year? How will you show that your content area is intriguing? How will you spark curiosity? How will you build a safe community where students feel comfortable taking risks?

Learn with me!

If you are interested in how your school can use a PBL framework to teach SEL skills. I would love to have a conversation on how I can help. I have limited availability for PBL & SEL workshops during the school year so contact me early. Check out my workshop page or drop me an email at mikejkaechele@gmail.com. I would love to chat and co-plan meaningful PD for the educators at your school.

Pulse of PBL

How Do You Plan to Trust Students This Year?

hall pass

From http://www.efestivals.co.uk/forums/topic/164728-t-minus-and-counting/page-74

I have been thinking a ton lately about the start of the school year including what I want to do on the first day, but especially about building culture.

I really think many teachers underestimate the importance of culture in schools and classrooms. In my opinion everything about the experience is culture: what we say, how we say it, what we never say, architecture, furniture, lighting, tone of voice, body language, what we do and don’t do, what students do or aren’t allowed to do. Every interaction and activity is a part of our culture and creates the “norms.”

Many teachers have shifted from a syllabus and the “rules” the first day of class to community building and things like designing social contracts together. I applaud this, but it is not enough! If we all agree to be responsible, but you never trust students then you are undermining the culture. If we agree to respect one another but then you micromanage every part of the class then you don’t really respect your students.

What students need from us is trust. Too often we start off the year with an assumption of negative behaviors from students that we need to cut off before they happen. Students will be off-task, misbehave, and waste time. The truth is that they probably will sometimes. But the danger of starting the year with this assumption is that it starts with a negative expectation. The other truth is that students will do amazing things that you never expected and teach you things, if you let them. Let’s try focusing on this instead the first day.

An example from my room is that I always tell students (10th grade) that they are not allowed to ask to go to the bathroom or get a drink in my class. I always say it in my most serious tone with a dramatic pause. Then I say, “Just get up and go if you have to go. I am not here to babysit you for basic human needs.” My starting point is assuming trust and responsibility.

I understand that this example might not work for your specific situation, but what can you do to communicate a starting position of trust, respect, and responsibility rather than expectations of poor behavior?