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First Week of School (Tentative) Plans

By Naomi O'Brien

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Goal for the Week

My main goal for the first week of school is to keep my kids safe, help them feel comfortable, and end each day with them excited and eager to come back for the next day!

That being said, I am also aware that I have my students for a limited amount of time, and we have a HUGE job to accomplish: Get to the next grade level with all the skills that we need to navigate that next year successfully.

So on the one hand, I’m enjoying the week getting to know my new friends and helping them feel welcome and included, but on the other hand, I’m also setting procedures and routines in place so we can set the tone for the new year.

Book Choices

Book choice can always change, but at the moment, these are the books that I can’t wait to share with my students for a number of reasons.

  1. They feature diverse characters and I want my students to know that I value diversity.
  2. I want my students to see themselves and others as important characters.
  3. I want to start critical conversations about skin color, disabilities, being multilingual, culture, gender, friendship, and being inclusive.
  4. I want my students to know that they matter to me- everything about them, including their names and their families.
  5. I want my students to know know our classroom will be a safe, kind, loving, and accepting space for them and anyone else who visits.
  6. I want them to feel like they are special and build a strong classroom community.

Day 1

My main goal on the first day is: Start learning names phonetically. Get them fed. Get them home safely.

Yes, we will have fun, we will play, and we will be merry. But no matter how seasoned you are, the first day can be chaotic. So I’m keeping my eyes on the prize: Feed them. Don’t lose. Get them home.

This is also a day where I want to focus on:

•Communicating our needs effectively (raising hands, hand signals).

•Attention getting/Calm down

•Transition from one activity to the next when they hear the wireless doorbell.

•Take bathroom/water breaks

No tattling rule

Sorting supplies.

•Utilize the calm down corner

•Turn and talk to work with a buddy

•Co-exist as classroom citizens

•Line up/Hallway Behavior

I don’t drill all of these things one after another, but they are built in throughout the day and worked on in a fun way that involves the students.

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Allowing my students to work on our ABC posters for our room is our first class project that starts on Day 1. It’s easy enough and it’s something that bonds us as a class. We get to work on something together that’s going to benefit our classroom. This is our very first classroom community building exercise. I let my students know that we have a problem:

We don’t have an ABC chart and we really need one so we can learn our letters and sounds this year.

I ask them for their in help in creating one and it’s something we work on all week during centers. I let them know the importance of taking their time, doing their best, and how kind it is to lend their efforts to help our class.

Talk to my students about emotions and how to manage them on day one is a high priority for me. It’s a new environment, new personalities, and lots of change- BIG emotions are going to come out. We talk about emotions and what we can do to help ourselves and help each other.

I show my students the calming corner in our room and we go over how to use the components of this corner. We all practice calming strategies and discuss why they are important. We talk about how it might feel when someone is having a BIG emotion and how we can help our friends and help ourselves. We act out scenarios and learn from one another about our emotional needs.

Day 2

My main goal on the second day is: Establish routines. Introduce subjects and what is expected during those times.

Day 1 and Day 2 are pretty similar. In the kids’ minds we are having fun and learning how to “do” school. In my mind, I’m continuing to put procedures and routines in place, paying attention to personalities, needs, and behaviors. I’m also constantly observing my new class (who can hold a pencil, who has trouble making friends, who is thinking outside of the box, who knows their letters, who needs more guidance,…)

Here are a few other things I may or may not focus on (plans can change based on student needs):

•Evacuate/hide in case of an emergency

•Work at centers (during centers, since I’m teaching transitional kindergarten this year, students will work on foundational math, writing, and ELA activities.)

•Transition from one activity to the next when they hear the wireless doorbell.

•Take bathroom/water breaks

•Utilize the calm down corner.

•Turn and talk to work with a buddy.

•Co-exist as classroom citizens.

•Line up/Hallway Behavior

•Find partners to work with

I LOVE introducing classroom jobs early. This is yet another classroom community builder that helps my students feel like they have a purpose in my room; like they are a part of the team. It takes a while for them to get the hang of, but that just solidifies my reasons for introducing this job system as early as possible!

In lieu of traditional about me activities in the classroom, I like to focus on culture! I want to know my students’ cultural backgrounds. How do they do things? What are their traditions, rules, customs, and ways of life and how can I incorporate those important aspects of my students into my classroom? Centering culture in the classroom is very important to me, so I get started on that early! I set up these procedures and routines and continue them throughout the week and year as needed.

Day 3

My main goal on the third day is: Repeat expectations often. Narrate positive behavior. Begin positive parent contact via note, email, or phone call.

For Day 3, I focus on:

•Revisit procedures from Day 1 & 2 as needed.

•Classroom Jobs

•Check in with students (how are the rules working? Is the classroom layout working? Overall classroom feedback/input)

•Introducing morning games and academic centers.

•Expectations for when a class guest pops in.

•Giving and receiving compliments (for a Kid of the Day routine I use)

Introduce writing and S.S.

Instead of traditional morning work, a few years ago I introduced games in the morning. I set out Jenga, Marble Run, Operation, Zingo, art supplies, blocks, puzzles, and more. I let my students know how many are allowed to join each game/area, and then let them just enjoy each other’s company. It helps them learn how to take turns, share, persevere, problem solve, communicate, and so many other important social skills. Long gone are the days of coming in quietly and working on a printable or in a workbook. I made this choice for several reasons.

  1. I don’t want to waste paper every morning on work that I’m not going to grade or really even look at.
  2. I don’t have students working on tasks that are too hard or too easy for them.
  3. Kids come in at different times and don’t get to start or don’t get their work finished and stress out.
  4. I want my students to look forward to coming into the room and make their transitions leaving their caregivers a little easier.
  5. It serves as another classroom community building time.
  6. It frees me up to check my emails, set up anything I need to set up, or talk with caregivers that have a quick question or just want to chat.

I slowly introduce subjects throughout the week and I let students know why we have the subject and what they will learn in the subject area throughout the year.

Day 4

My main goal on the fourth day is: Starting to stick to schedule a bit more. Lessons are a little more structured.

For Day 4, I focus on:

•Practice routines and procedures.

•Introduce math.

•Set goals.

•Learn how to use dry erase boards.

Practice how to do learning centers.

•Introduce Kid of the Day & feelings check-ins.

As the week comes to a close, I’m thinking about how I want to really make sure my students are ready for what our classroom will be like once our routines and procedures are all in place. I start trying to stick to my schedule a little tighter and continuing giving my students guidance about how to be successful in my classroom.

We may stay in our centers a little longer on day 4 and 5 so that students can build their stamina for learning with their friend independently.

At their centers they are still working on fun tasks like coloring, tracing, cutting, and reading. I’m just exposing them to the routine and allowing them to practice.

Day 5

My main goal on the fifth day is: Next week is the real deal. Reteach and tighten up!

For Day 5, I focus on:

•Practice routines and procedures.

•Introduce science.

•Establish center groups/assess.

•Start I do, We do, You Do x 2 Math routine.

•Finish ABC posters.

•Present culture computers.

By Day 5, I want my students to begin internalizing the structure and routines we’ve built up over the week. I want them to love our room, have strong bonds with each other, and have an understanding of what learning in our classroom will look like on a daily basis.

I want them to understand how transitions work, how to advocate for what they need, where to go to calm down and how to manage their emotions, and what it means to be a successful student in my classroom.

I want to get to know them culturally so that I can better understand them and their families and I want my expectations to be clear and high for all of my students so we can enjoy each day together and make it to the next grade level together.

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Naomi

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Hi, I'm Naomi

I have been teaching elementary students for over 10 years. Effective reading instruction and accurate social studies at the primary level are huge passions of mine! 

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