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What Do We Do For the First Week of School?

By Naomi O'Brien


Naomi (10 years in the classroom) and LaNesha (15 years in the classroom) have loved comparing classroom notes over the past few years, especially when it comes to the first week of school.

We remember a few years ago when Naomi was going back to teach kindergarten after a year off with her baby, followed by a year as the K-5 GT teacher, she asked LaNesha what she had planned for the first week of school. Ever since then, they always shared ideas, swapped activities, and learned from each other about what to get into during this important week.

We want to share those ideas with you!

Some of the best PD we’ve ever had is just sitting down and chatting with a fellow educator about their teaching practices.

We are going to share some slides from a webinar we offered a few weeks ago. After each day we’ll be sharing our MITT- Most Important Teacher Tip!

Let’s get into it:

Click the image to purchase a Teacher’s Top Secret written by LaNesha Tabb
Resources shown: Building a Positive Classroom Environment and Culture. Culture. Culture.

Day 1 MITT: Make sure you know how the kids are getting home. LaNesha sets up a board and has caregivers place sticky note in the appropriate spot to make sure each child knows exactly what to do when it’s pick-up time! And don’t forget to have fun! We want our students to come back excited to learn!

Resources shown: Your Name is a Big Deal to Me, Team Building Challenges, and Building a Positive Classroom Environment

Day 2 MITT: Began to build the classroom with the students. Involve them in the “decorating”. Get their pictures, their ideas, their work, and their culture on the walls. Students can create alphabet charts, number posters, and color signs.

Resource shown: Culture. Culture. Culture. and Kindergarten Set Up for Social Studies
Resources Shown: Reading Readiness and Social Studies for August
Click the image to learn more about classroom jobs.

Day 3 MITT: Work on procedures that you will set you up for success and give students fun ways to practice them. We launch social studies, assign classroom jobs, and begin routines for partner work. We address what’s been going on so far and adjust lessons and routines as needed.

Alpert Book
Science Labs for Little Learners
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Day 4 MITT: Be clear with your directions. Communicate your expectations to your students. Practice, practice, practice and give feedback often! We love to narrate positive behavior.

Positive Narration Example: Give students a direction like, “When I say go, I want everyone to walk safely to the door and line up. Go.” Even though some kids may not be walking or lining up, we will point out the students that did meet the expectation. We might say, “I like the way Ian walked to the door safely. Thank you, Ian.” or “I see that David walked to the door very safely. I really appreciate that.”

Day 5 MITT: Set yourself and your students up for success. Start the routines and procedures that you want to see in October, right now! Don’t wait until they are “ready” or “settled in”. They are ready. Introduce your routines and give them time to figure things out.

The beginning of the year is a little all over the place for everyone as we are all figuring our new classes out and they are figuring us out. We always tell ourselves, “It’ll be smooth sailing in October. Stay the course.”

Naomi’s Teacher Suggestion: Start Centers on Day! Get yourself a wireless doorbell and practice freezing, cleaning, and switching when they bell rings.

LaNesha’s Teacher Suggestion: Teach your students how to have a conversation with a partner. Start with something fun during the first week and turn it academic later on!

Naomi’s Teacher Suggestion: Pull out mini game centers instead of a worksheet or silent reading for morning work.

LaNesha’s Teacher Suggestion: Use your students and picture books to decorate the class. Keep your walls are bare as possible and build the room with the kids during the first few weeks of school.

Partner Badges Here

Naomi’s Teacher Suggestion: Utilize partners often! Badges help students quickly find partners that are just right!

LaNesha’s Teacher Suggestion: As students work and play throughout the week, use that time to make informal observations. Start planning reading groups and getting to know personalities.

Resources shown can be found here.
Resources shown can be found here.

We want our kids to have fun and LOVE school their first week, but we also want to hit the ground running starting week two. We get into our “real” lessons and continue to have expectations and practice our procedures and routines as needed.

Download our free social studies posters here.



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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