It’s hard to believe, but summer is coming to a close. Some of you have already started a new school year, but we anticipate that most of you will begin this Monday. If you’ve got the first-day jitters, we promise that you’re not alone. Students have them and so do your colleagues—even the battle-scarred veterans who have been in the classroom for years. There’s only one first day of school and we want you to walk into your classroom with confidence.
First Day of School Jitters and 4 Ways to Conquer Them
No last minute preparations
We have a habit of scolding students who procrastinate. Truth be told, we’re some of the finest (and most covert) procrastinators in the nation—and our peace of mind has paid for it. Putting things off, even the small stuff just isn’t worth it.
Before you go to bed on Sunday evening, everything—I mean everything!—should be ready for the first day of class. No last-minute photo copies before first hour. No last-minute tweaks to the syllabus and seating charts. Set the timer on your coffee maker, make your lunch, and iron your outfit the night before. When you wake up, the only thing you should concern yourself with is getting both legs inside your pants.
Do you really want to improvise your introductory speech?
First impressions are important, so is the way teachers introduce themselves. Some teachers are brilliant orators and can deliver on the fly, but we always feel better when we know exactly what we want to say. Write down your opening remarks; even practice them if you think it would ease your mind.
If you’re using technology, make sure it works
Nothing stresses us out like having to fix a piece of cranky technology in front of a group. You know what we’re talking about: the video plays, but there’s no sound; the sound plays, but there’s no video. In that moment, it feels as if a spotlight parted the heavens just to illuminate our embarrassment and frustration.
If you are using technology on the first day of class, get there at least an hour early to make sure it works. If you’re using YouTube videos, make sure they’re still there. If you have a slow network, get these videos loaded up so that they play instantly.
Take a moment…then begin
Most of us have a set routine when we get to school. Routine is good, but do these activities have a clear beginning and end? In other words, do you end up typing three or four concluding sentences or reading one final paragraph while your students trickle in?
It’s tempting to squeeze the marrow out of every moment before “it” really begins, but there’s a costly tradeoff. Sure, you may have gotten through one more email, but did you notice the energy, demeanor, attitude, vibe of your students as they trickled in? Did you greet each student and say hello?