Practical Perspective: Preparing For the First Day of School


Summer is over and it is time to head back to school! Most teachers know that while a new school year is exciting, there is a lot to accomplish before the students arrive. The first few weeks of school can set the tone for the entire year. Set yourself and your students up for success by being prepared for the first day of school!

Get to Know New Students and Parents:

Relationships are a critical key to success.  Start building positive relationships with parents and students. Consider calling and introducing yourself to parents or calling to welcome a family back for another year of great learning.

Read your students individualized education plans to familiarize yourself with their goals and objectives, behavior intervention plans, needed accommodations and modifications, and schedule of services for the current school year.

Set up the Classroom Environment:

Set up your classroom to include clearly defined instructional areas with curriculum and necessary materials. Don’t forget to consider set-up and accessibility within the classroom to support instruction.  When students arrive on the first day of school you want your room to communicate that they are welcome and that you are ready for them.


Educate Support Staff:

Educate support staff on students' individualized education plans, so they are also prepared to support students.  Make sure that support staff have the tools they will need to support student behavior plans (e.g., visuals, token systems, reinforcers, timers, communication devices, social stories). If support staff will be responsible for teaching lessons, consider modeling the lesson and answering questions that staff may have related to the lesson.

Create a Schedule:

Prepare student schedules and staff schedules.  Yes, the schedule may change (Who are we kidding? The schedule will change!), but it is critical to have a plan to follow on the first day.  Make notes on what parts of the schedule worked and what parts of the schedule need to be adjusted. Be sure that staff know where they are supposed to be if their location changes throughout the day, what students they are supporting, and what supports they should be providing.

Develop Lesson Plans:

Make lesson plans for the first week of school.  Prepare activities that will help you get to know your students and help your students get to know you, and start building strong positive relationships with students. Be sure to inventory your materials and curriculum to make sure you have what you need on the first day of school and that you know how to use the materials you do have!

The first week of school is a great time to establish classroom expectations by directly teaching classroom procedures and routines.

Consider teaching students how to:

  • Enter the classroom
  • Line up for recess/break
  • Transition between activities
  • Walk in a line
  • Respond to choral instructions
  • Attend to a classroom signal
  • Sit and attend to instruction
  • Utilize the cafeteria, library, bathroom
  • Prepare for dismissal


Most importantly, enjoy the excitement and energy the first day of school brings!

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