Sitting next to the ocean on vacation with three feverish children has given me a lot of time to think. To relax. To lay puzzles. Read books. Take walks. Recharge. I wish everyone could have a quiet time like this.
In the quiet, the new school year sneaks in. Thoughts and ideas spring forth, the excitement starts to build. There are changes this year once again; only three classes to teach, each 90 minutes long. New focuses brought in. New ideas to try. A sense of urgency that cannot be replicated. I cannot wait.
And so I think about the very first day of school. Of the experience, we will have. Of the things, we will do together. But most importantly, how I want our students to feel after they leave our classroom experience together. How I would love for them to feel at the end of the day. Hopefully excited, hopefully intrigued. Hopefully safe. Hopefully accepted. Hopefully wanting to come back.
Because when we plan for the first day of school, that’s what we should be planning for; how they feel after they leave us.
Not just all of the things we need to do, but the very tone we set. Not just all we have to cover, but the beginnings of the relationships we will create.
And so I plan for a picture book read aloud. I plan for book shopping. I plan for conversation, for the beginning moments of community. I plan for laughter. I plan for fun.
The stuff? The projects? The nuts and bolts of our year together? That will come. But on that very first day, it is not what is most important; our beginning relationship as a community is. And so that’s what we focus on.
Everything else can wait.
How do you want your students to feel after the first day of school?
If you like what you read here, consider reading my newest book, Passionate Readers – The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child. This book focuses on the five keys we can implement into any reading community to strengthen student reading experiences, even within the 45 minute English block. If you are looking for solutions and ideas for how to re-engage all of your students consider reading my very first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students. Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.
6 thoughts on “On the First Day of School”
For some of us this is closer than you think our first day with students is Monday July 31st Joni
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What is your favorite read aloud for the first day? Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I, too, hope to develop relationships first. Good luck on the first day!
I want to start with a read aloud as well – do you have some favorites that you use?
Oh, Pernille, I love this so much. As I get ready to start seeing classes next week in the library this is exactly what I want for us. Yes, there are so many things to do to get ready but this is the most important thing to think about. Like you, I want to plan for the important stuff, the connection I will make with my kiddos around reading. Your thoughts and words bring tears to my eyes, tears of joy and anticipation. Thank you.
Pernille, my name is Gabe Shirey. I am the Executive Director of a new charter school opening August 2019. I am also a student, earning my Master of Science in Education, at Johns Hopkins University. One of our assignments this week was to find a blogger from whom we were interested in learning more and who could show us the proper ways to blog and engage with others online. I really enjoyed reading several of your posts and look forward to learning more. We have a lot in common with family, children and occupation, but that’s perhaps to discuss at a later time. As I begin a blog of my own and create my wordpress page, thanks for showing me what a great page can look like with many engaging followers and topics.
As far as this post is concerned, what activity has made the largest impact during your student’s first day of school, if the rubric you are using is excited, intrigued, safe and accepted?
We read a picture book, we laugh, we answer questions, we also write a bit and brose books. We take it very easy on the first day and ease into our relationship and community together