What Do I Do On The FIrst Day Of School?

  • What do I do on the first day of school?
  • What do I wear on the first day of school?
  • Am I going to know what to do with unruly students?
  • Will the kids respect me?
  • How will I know how to teach a certain concept?
  • What will I do if a lesson bombs?
  • What if I can’t answer the student’s questions?

If you’re reading this blog, if you purposely typed those words into a search engine, then you are searching for answers. Those are a few of the questions I asked myself before I started teaching last year. I typed in those same words because, like everyone else, I was lost for the first couple of months of teaching. It seemed like everyone else seemed to have “it” more under control than I did. In the copy room, they seemed to know what they were doing; what pages to copy; in the classroom, what lessons to teach. However, the solution isn’t as simple as typing those words into a search engine and getting an answer. I hate to say this, but no one can give you those answers. They can’t give them to you because you have them. Sure they may be able to tell you what lesson to plan or give you helpful hints on how to handle kids, but some things you have to experience for yourself. There are some things no one can tell you. No one has the secret that you need. You have it. The answers may be deep down inside you, but they are there.

As I stated above, when I first started, I was so lost. I didn’t have a clue. Although I had recently graduated from an excellent teaching program @ Azusa Pacific University, I thought that surely other teachers had a secret weapon; that they knew more than I did. I thought that surely they must have had some sort of secret training in their teacher training program that I didn’t. Surely I was missing something, wasn’t I? Why didn’t I have the “secret” that they had? Why didn’t I go to their training program? Why, oh, why was I so stupid that I couldn’t pick the right program? Little did I know that I had that same “secret” they did; that same secret weapon.

They did have the “secret”. Once I learned the secret, I found out that it wasn’t as complicated as I’d originally thought. I will get to the secret, but first, I will continue with my current train of thought regarding my secret weapon.

The only thing most new teachers didn’t know more about than me was MY secret- my classroom management skills. If I must say so, they are very good. I cheated though. I had an advantage. I was an assistant for 6.5 years. During that time I picked up many “tricks”. That’s how I was able to gain control over my class and establish control from the beginning. That’s the reason why I didn’t go completely crazy. If I didn’t have the classroom under control, I would have gone stir crazy and had a nervous breakdown.

Okay, now that I’ve said that. I’m going to tell you the “secret”. It’s so simple, you might think that it’s too simple. Just trust me on this and listen very carefully, cause here it goes:

  • it’s perseverance to keep getting back up when all you want to do is lay in the bed and feel sorry for yourself because that kid got the best of you yesterday.
  • it’s about learning as much information as you can handle so you can master the programs that you teach.
  • it’s reading ahead and being prepared.
  • Let me say it again, it’s about being prepared.
  • it’s about staying positive when you want to scream @ the top of your lungs because no one seems to understand what you’re going through.
  • it’s about stick-to-it-ive-ness.

There are a couple more. Well, I’m sure, there are a lot more, but these are all I’ve been able to find out for myself so far. I will add more to this as I learn more.


4 thoughts on “What Do I Do On The FIrst Day Of School?

  1. Here are a few that I posted to a first -year teacher asking about that first day and first week to end all others:

    survival tip #1: make the custodian and secretary your best friend – buy them coffee, bring them donuts, wash their cars, but make sure you stay in their good graces at all times.

    survival tip #2: find a partner teacher that you can send a kid out to see on timeout when you’re at your limit and can’t take it anymore. don’t make the front office the dumping ground for behavior problems you can’t yet handle, or are having trouble with when they target you as the freshest teacher meat on the block. and they will smell that first month fear on you and test those boundaries.

    survival tip #3: figure out who are going to be those most difficult to deal with, authority-defying, hormone-raging, balance-of-power classroom catalysts that have the potential to get everyone around them stirred up. call their parents within the first 48 hours of meeting them – before the first incident happens – and give compliments and optimistic statements about their child’s potential to have a great year up the wazoo. lie through your teeth if you have to. the good will that introductory phone call creates will be the insurance policy you will draw upon for the rest of the year.

    survival tip #4: buy the costco 5 gallon bucket of twizzlers for bribes and rewards. and i mean specifically twizzlers. any small candies with wrappers will litter the ground like a trail of breadcrumbs leading from your classroom door. chocolate will get on textbooks. with twizzlers, they’re too hard to break and share, so those who were off-task when you gave directions and didn’t get the treat can’t pressure the goody-two-shoes in the front row to hand over half of the reward. and, *laughing at the irony* don’t forget to read alfie kohn’s punished by rewards at the same time.

    survival tip #5: get a good pair of merrells, born, or other support shoe, then add gel insoles, then put a rubber mat in front of the white board where you’ll be standing, then leave the bucket and epson salt by the sofa for when you get home.

    get ready for the roller coaster ride of your life.

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