Aug 2, 2014

UPDATED: The First Day of Band - Setting the Stage for Success

There is not one student that comes to school on the first day not wanting to have a great year.
 The importance of what you say and do on the first day of class has enormous implications because you are setting the tone for the rest of the school year.  When students enter your classroom, they want to know a few things:  Is the teacher nice?  Where do I sit  What are we going to do this year?  How much work is there going to be?  These might not be the things a teacher would think of, but they are important things to a student.  Especially middle schoolers.  Take a moment and think back to when you were a student.  These are probably some of the same questions you had.

Here are few ideas to help to achieve a successful first day:
  • Greet students at the door and welcome them to your class.  Show them you are sincerely excited about the great year they are going to have.  
  • Show your personality!  Tell your students about something really funny or embarrassing that happened to you over the summer.  Show pictures from a really cool trip you took!   Or, wear something unique!  Kids latch on to stuff like this and love to see their teacher's personal side.
  • Have all handouts like permission slips, calendar, binder cover, instrument contracts, practice journals, method books, the syllabus, handbook and music for the first performance on the students' chairs when they enter the room.  I even have labels with the students' names on their handouts waiting for them on their seats. This is great time-saving tip because you do not have to waste time passing out multiple documents during class.  And since we all know how busy the first few days of school are, getting anything copied before school starts is smart move.
  • Give every student a pencil.  This is not any ordinary pencil!  Attach a Velcro sticky tab to it so that it can be stored inside their music folder or binder.  This guarantees that every student has a pencil on the first day of class too. 
  • Make classroom rules and procedures simple and easy to remember.  You may not go over these on the first day, but have the rules posted in the room and in your handbook or syllabus.  Students and parents will read them.
  • Create a PowerPoint or other presentation that outlines all the things that are going to be happening in your class this year.  By the end of class, the students will have a good idea of what they can expect in your class.  For example, highlight the concerts, special performances, festivals, trips, lock-ins or other activities they can look forward to.
  • Post everything on your band website including the presentation.  Slideshare is a good resource for sharing presentations, as well as PDF and Word files.  They can be embedded right on your website.
Finally, be organized on the first day.  Have all technology set-up, tested and ready to go.  Anything that is going to be handed-out should be ready to go.  Know exactly how much time you have and how much time it will take to get through your agenda.

When you are organized, you are sure to feel less stressed.  This will give your students a positive first impression of their teacher and your class that sets the stage for a successful year.  Good luck!

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