Twelve Years of First Day Butterflies

Remember Harry Wong? He is mister Miyagi of classroom management in a tailored suit, banishing students to the hallway chasm if they cannot enter his domain with dignity. I do not doubt there is wisdom contained in the renown “The First Days of School.”

But he gave me a case of the yearly butterflies.

Wong led us to believe that the first impression is unremitting; a mispronounced name, a stumbled word, or an awkward procedure would sink your ship. Oops! I mis-alphabetized the seating cards of my geometrically perfect configuration of student vessels! Now what?

Be real. I take away from eleven successful years of teaching (and maybe from Wong, too) this:

1. Greet each student at the door with a genuine gaze and smile. It’s ok if you haven’t memorized their birthday yet.
2. Yes you should have something for them to do immediately as the class begins. And that “thing” is usually a student information sheet/interest inventory.
3. Thoroughly and confidently explain your expectations and rules to your students.
4. Obtain a work sample to prepare a formative for beginning your instructional units.
5. Hold them accountable for signing something and returning with supplies ASAP.

As with most concepts in education, use discretion and judge what works for you. Teaching (and classroom is a patchwork of best practices.

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