What is the purpose of the first day of school?

Thursday was my first day of school with students. Each class was only fifteen-twenty minutes long(yikes). I plan my activities in the first day for very specific purposes. When the kids came in the room was darkened, my string of lights around the ceiling on, and everything is day 1 quiet. I walked to the front of the room and took out my guitar case, took out the guitar and hit a couple of strings—haven’t said a word at this point. I start some simple strumming of songs chords and then stop and say—“oh I forgot, welcome to the greatest class you will ever have.” Start up the strumming again and play an original song welcoming them and giving them some insight as to what will occur in the class, and inside themselves.

When the song is over I briefly talk about how this class will be different from any other class they have ever had, and that they will struggle in the beginning—but not to be afraid. The struggles, the tears, the joys and the smiles will all be worth it. I then played a video showing them quotes from last year’s kid’s final evaluations to drive home the point to stick with me through the struggles, because great things will happen.

I then hand out their million word assignment and explain how it is one of the most important assignments of the entire year.

Then I ask them if anyone is allergic to giraffes. I explain to the baffled faces that I needed to know for tomorrow’s class.

There is a lot of “unwritten” stuff that goes on between and during each thing, especially before I start playing the song—but hard to describe in words the “body motion” sorts of stuff done to draw them in.

So what is the purpose of those activities? I want them to know that I like them. I want them to like me. I want them to be desperate to come back tomorrow. I want them to begin to wonder why I did those crazy things, and wonder what will happen tomorrow. I want them to find my room to be a safe, trusting environment in which smiles are accepted.

What was the purpose of your first day with students? If you don’t have kids and you work with adults—what is the purpose of your first contact with teachers?

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