15 Ways to Beat the First Day Jitters

Are you a new teacher and a little bit nervous about starting the school year in the classroom? Here are some tips from CTA to help you put those butterflies in check!

  1. Plan, plan, plan > Plan at least twice as much as you think you can cover. Detailed plans will provide you with a feeling of security when facing the class for the first time. Be familiar with technology (interactive white board, document cameras, projectors, laptops). Setup and test everything out first so you’ll know there’ll be no problems. 
  2. Make the grade > Discover if your district requires its own digital gradebook software; learn how to use it.
  3. Schedule your time > Make a detailed schedule for the first few days, including times for each subject, restroom and lunch breaks and other times your students will leave the room.  Posting the schedule in a central location will also be a good reminder for your students.
  4. Make procedural decisions > School will begin much more smoothly if you decide in advance how to handle routine procedures. Develop classroom discipline procedures that follow your district’s policy and guidelines. Elementary teachers should decide on a system for: taking attendance, book and paper distribution, money collection, restroom visits, fire drills, classroom entrances and exits and bus loading. Secondary teachers need to decide how to: take atten­dance, deal with tardy students, make assignments, collect papers, handle make-up work, give hall passes, acquiring and putting away technology.
  5. Store supplies > Go through the storage and filing cabinets and decide where to store things students’ access and things only you access. Be careful with money, calculators and your grade book. Locate a secure spot for your personal valuables.
  6. Introduce yourself > Meet the teachers on your hall and your TALB site representative. They can be of assistance in the first few weeks of school. Take the time to say “hello” to other important people in your building: the school secretary, the librarians, the counselors, the school nurs­es, the cafeteria workers and custodians.
  7. Learn your way around > Familiarize yourself with the building. Locate exits, principal’s office, gym, nurse’s office, cafeteria, supply room, faculty lounge and media center.
  8. Know the rules > Get acquainted with school policies and procedures, such as opening and closing hours, attendance procedures, fire drill regulations, lunchroom regulations and nurse services. Ask if there is a student handbook. Set up a notebook or folder to hold official notices, policies and schedules. Make sure your TALB membership is complete and get a copy of your contract.
  9. Decorate your room > Get your room ready. Make sure your class­room is friendly and liv­able for opening day. Put up pictures, design a colorful bulletin board and add a few plants. Before bringing in an animal, check school policy and student allergies.
  10. Consider traditional seating > Start with the traditional arrangement of desks until your students understand and follow the class norms. Make a temporary seating plan. Check for “blind spots” from your desk and various parts of the room. Keep traffic patterns in mind when arranging. Be prepared to move students if you receive Individualized Education Program (IEP) accommodations on preferred seating arrangements, or you have students who can’t see the board.
  11. Get your materials ready > Make sure you have all the materials you’ll need for getting school under way: paper, pencils and books. Create something fun for a hall pass – make it unique.  Identify the forms that will be used the first week, what information should be included and how they are handled. There are forms more than you could ever expect! Obtain supplies provided by the school. These go fast, so learn how to keep track of them. Among supplies you’ll need are: paper, pencils, pens, paper clips, masking tape, scotch tape, scissors, chalk, stapler and staples. Find out how to obtain textbooks. If you are a floating teacher, prepare a means of moving materials from room to room, such as a luggage dolly with a small basket.
  12. Plan the drive to school > If you to drive to school, drive it at least once during the time of day you will be driving to school. Find the best route and an alternate route in case of a traffic accident.
  13. Get there early > On the first morning, arrive early so you'll have time to ask any last-minute questions, go over final plans, and relax before the students come in.
  14. Greet your pupils > Be outside your room when the pupils arrive. Have your name written on the whiteboard. Greet the students with a smile and a pleasant “Good morning.”
  15. Start the learning > Make the first day of school a real one. Accomplish some constructive learning with your students. A good start yields big dividends later on.