20 Things I Learned During My First Week of School

First week of school… check! Wow, what a ride. After my first day last week I got out a piece of paper and I wrote down anything and everything I remembered thinking I should have done or needed to do.

Here they are so that you can be ready and feel confident for the first day (and first week) of school.

  1.  Take care of yourself first!! Get plenty of sleep, drink loads of water, and don’t skip lunch! This will take a lot of prioritizing so only do the MOST important things first. Everything else can be on hold for a little bit.
  2.  Do not give students manual pencil sharpeners. Your floor will be covered in shavings and you’ll have students dropping them on the floor 1,485,016,473,929 times a day. Have students keep them in their art supply bag for colored pencils or just bring them home. Just this morning I came across this blog post from Teacher Off Duty where she uses a remote to control her automatic pencil sharpener… GENIUS!
  3.  Make sure you leave plenty of time (I suggest 35-40 min) to practice your afternoon routine. This includes figuring out who is a car rider and who is a bus rider BEFORE you start walking them out the door. Otherwise you’ll still be looking for emails at 7pm to hear if anyone didn’t make it home that day.
  4.  Ask about how attendance and lunch count work as well. Each school will differ in how they do attendance, bussing, and lunch count. Figure yours out before the first day of school to save you from a heart attack.
  5.  Organize first!! Getting organized the very first day at the very beginning of the day will help everything run so much more smoothly.
  6.  Speak with your custodian! Are there any end-of-the day routines you need to be aware of? Trash bags in the hallway at the end of the day? Chairs up? Things off the desks?
  7.  Reinforce voice levels like nobody’s business. Also practice them so students know what they sound like. We are only a week in and my students are very aware of what each noise level means and sounds like (even though they aren’t actually good at following through).
  8.  FULL MOON CRAZIES ARE A REAL THING! It’s real people!! You will have children off the walls when a full moon gets close. Take comfort that you’re not the only teacher experiencing it.
  9.  Make your classroom contract priority. Create your contract on the first day and spend a little extra time after school organizing students’ thoughts and making it pretty. Discuss the importance of their signature on the contract the second day (great time to talk about print v. signatures. We even looked at some signatures on the constitution). Refer to this contract when you run into issues.
  10.  At orientation/open house have parents email YOU! It’ll be so much easier than entering each name and email individually.
  11.  Half your plans will probably go down the drain. Take the time you need on establishing rules, procedures, and routines FIRST. I’m sure we will all thank ourselves for that in February.
  12.  If you have specials at the end of the day- take time to fill out planners or pack up bags beforehand. This leaves you more time to go over planners and actually check them (you WILL have students who will try to fill In the wrong date) and it won’t be complete chaos.
  13.  Parents are a great source- make sure to use them. They will give you so much information you need to know BEFORE the school year. Don’t just put this info away in storage. Use it!!
  14.  Use your resource teacher for knowledge. If you have students needing extra help, odds are the resource teacher saw them last year. Ask them for advice and how you can better support those students in your classroom as soon as possible.
  15.  On that note, reach out to the resource room teacher, guidance counselor, or whoever will be visiting your class. If you’re on top of it and discuss scheduling you’ll be able to reserve times that work best for your schedule. As a first year teacher you’re going to want to try everything you can to make your life and schedule a bit less hectic.
  16.  The “ask 3 before me” rule is SO worth it. It’s a time saver for you and a useful strategy for students.
  17.  If you have any kind of reward that your students will work toward during the week make sure to show them! If you have some sort of game they get to play if they do “X” then play it! Show them exactly what they are working toward!!
  18.  You will need to show your students how EVERYTHING works! You might think something seems obvious but to them it’s not!   This includes setting up papers for assignments, directions, turn-in bins, which mailbox is theirs, etc. Just do it now and save yourself from the headache later.
  19.  Be honest with your students. Let them know that you’re testing things out and things might change week-to-week until you figure out what works best for everyone.
  20.  Plan one activity for students to do that can hang in the hallway. Show off your awesome students and their hard work!

Comment below with what YOU learned your first week or what you found most helpful from this post.

Written by: Tiffany

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Ms B says:

    So many of these points are dead on for me and my classroom as well but number 1… this is spot on. I recently was in an accident and fractured a vertebrae that week before school started! My plan was to push through the first 3 days of meetings and work days along with the students first two days to finish out the week. After Monday I realized this was just too much stress and physical pain for me to handle. I talked to my principal and special education director and they both said that my health was top priority so if I needed to take some time off or other accommodations that I shouldn’t hesitate to do so. I am so thankful that they were understanding and I decided to take a half day on Tuesday to rest up a bit.
    Good luck with your school year and hopefully everything is smooth sailing from here on out for both of us!


    1. Hope you are feeling better! That is crazy! But yes, taking care of yourself is most important!! Best of luck this school year!!


  2. teacheroffduty says:

    Thanks for the shout-out! 🙂 But for real, pencil shavings nightmares are THE WORST.

    1 – Amen!!
    16 – YES
    10 & 17 – Oh, those are great ideas!

    Love the blog!! Can’t wait to read more this year!

    Liked by 1 person

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