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The First Day of Class: Setting the Tone for the New School Year

Paul has spent many years teaching English as a foreign and second language. He has taught EFL in Taiwan and Thailand, and ESL in the U.S.

Fifth and Sixth Grade Students at Assembly

My fifth and sixth grade students at assembly on the first day of school 2010

My fifth and sixth grade students at assembly on the first day of school 2010

The First Day Of Class

The first day of class is extremely important for all teachers. It is on this occasion that teachers lay a foundation for the new school year. This is done by establishing rapport with students and constructing the foundation for classroom policy and procedure.

Setting The Tone For The New School Year

For almost seven years, I taught English as a foreign language (EFL) at a school in Thailand. Every year I attempted to set the tone for my classes for the new school year by doing the following during the first 50-minute period:

1. Establish Rapport With Students:

Our school classes usually began on May 18, and in most years they were challenging because I had 11 different classes. The classes were on both the fifth and sixth-grade levels. There were so many new names and faces to learn, and the students also had to get to know me.

A teacher's self-introduction is the first order of business when the class begins. In the past, I have written my name and nationality on the whiteboard while introducing myself orally. I have also drawn a map of the United States on the board showing where I was born, grew up, and lived in the past. For some years, I attached a world map to the board and then had the students guess from which country I came. I would also let them guess my hobbies and interests before I revealed them to the students. This was the easy part.

The more difficult part was having the students introduce themselves to me. Due to time constraints, it was very difficult to have each student in a class of 28 - 30 introduce herself, in the same manner, I introduced myself. Instead, I would let each student say her name, and then instruct the girls to make name tags and attach them to their desks. Some of my colleagues in the past had photographed each student, so this is a possibility to consider. The important thing is to ensure that each student starts to establish a personal bond with the teacher.

2. Laying A Foundation For Classroom Policy And Procedure:

Introductions between the teacher and students and among the students will probably take 35 - 40 minutes. In a 50-minute class period, only 10 - 15 minutes will remain for establishing classroom policy and procedure. This is extremely crucial, because classroom routines, policies, and discipline must be set during the first class. From the first day of class, students and teachers must be on the same page regarding teacher expectations regarding books and supplies brought to each class, attendance, tardiness, homework, tests and grading, and acceptable student classroom behavior. If students don't have or understand teacher expectations, there certainly will be problems in the classes which could have been avoided.

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Establishing rapport through introductions must be done on the first day of school. Setting the tone for classroom management and teacher expectations must begin on the first day and continue to be reinforced during the next few class periods.

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The First Day of School

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Paul Richard Kuehn


Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on April 16, 2012:

Mawuko, thanks for the comment and I'm happy you found this hub helpful.

mawuko on April 16, 2012:

thanks. you tought me what setting a tone for a school is. buy

MissKeducator from Suffolk, Virginia on August 08, 2011:

Great informative piece. Setting the tone and working with a group of students. I am teaching more this year than I have ever taught before so it is good to know others go through the same thing.

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