So, I’ll just be honest…as a student, I
hated the first day of school. Especially in high school. I could predict what
the day would be like, and I honestly dreaded it to no end. Visit every class,
barely meet your new teacher, and then get a syllabus to go over.
Same.thing.every.year. It was in my mind…pointless. I thought to myself, “Tell
me your name, give me the syllabus, don’t insult my intelligence by reading it
to me, and let’s move on.”
I understand that you want to “set these
standards” but is there any other way we can do it?
I vowed to myself that when I became a
teacher that my first day for my students would rock. I wanted my class to be
their favorite (or at leas their least dreaded). I wanted that when students went
home & told about their day…that maybe, just maybe, there was a little
excitement for the next day in Spanish class. I knew that by "liking the class, the language had a chance"
So today I want to share some secrets that
set my class apart from other typical classes on the FIRST DAY! SIDE NOTE: Many of these activities CAN BE adjusted FOR ANY subject & any level. You just have to customize the task to your own subject & teaching!
1. 1. Music…when they walk in, they
might just walk in moving their hips.
some classes, I will show a music video that compliments a Spanish song and
displays culture. The kids can tell from the music and video that the energy
will be high, and the class is going to be very different.
2. Make them an honorary Latino for the rest of the year. I don't
put my kids in alphabetical seating and I don't do rows. Instead, they are
placed in a Spanish speaking country group where they will be competing against
OTHER countries. They win prizes, homework exemptions, and even food. I love
hearing the kids say on the first day, "What are you? What country are you
in?" Plus, if they didn't know any countries that spoke Spanish, they
learned six on the first day.
Note: what's even awesome is when OTHER teachers ask you about
this "country thing" because they overhear kids in their classes ask
what country other students are in.
I use little seat flag tags on the desk that group the countries
together. The kids on the first day get exposure to the flag, the country name,
the word "soy", and the nationalities all IN SPANISH.
Little tip: I stand at my classroom door and tell every student
that enters which country they are in. I have always done this idea because it
allows me to talk to every individual student on the first day. I can smile and
introduce myself. Plus, making that first impression has always played in my
3. Close the door & give a quick intro. This is one of my
favorite parts because this will be the FIRST time ever they get full exposure
to the Spanish language. Before I even do attendance, I give a quick little
three minute intro of my class (and myself), but I use half Spanish and half
English. I only speak Spanish that is complete cognates and I speak very
clearly & slow. I love it because the kids will respond "I think I
totally understood what you said" or "I followed you the whole
time." I try to be very warm and embracing during this little intro. I am
amazed at what personalities I will see come out within the first five minutes
of the class.
4. Spanish word attendance. This activity is soooo much fun &
can be played anytime, but you AND YOUR STUDENTS will love it on the first day.
Basically, you're going to call out your students names for attendance. You'll
teach them to say "hi, here" (In Spanish: hola, aquí) but then they
must say ONE Spanish Word that they know (or whatever language you teach). It
can be a food, animal, country, etc. It's so much fun to hear the kids spill
out a Mexican restaurant menu. I promise there will be laughs by the end of
attendance, and look at how much Spanish you're already exposing to the kids.
5. Time to show the "About the Class & About the Teacher
PPT" This is where you'll settle some Spanish nerves and give a great
snapshot of your class. This PPT answers any dire questions, but more than
anything: it shows the kids WHY, JUST WHY learning a language is so important.
I even make a slide of jobs they can obtain with being bilingual. Hey, money
The 2nd half of the PPT is an About Me section. This is where I am
going to be vulnerable and connect with my kids. I am going to tell them about
my childhood, where I went to school, why I became a teacher, etc. This is
where the students will connect. This is where they will understand why you are
doing what you're doing.
6. After the PPT, time to go over the Syllabus....but...
with memes! That's right. It's time to explain the expectations
of your class but for each section, the students will see funny memes. This
makes the most boring part of the class a little less painless, and who doesn't love a good
Will Farrell meme.
7. One more PPT (and it's a biggie)...Class Procedures. Okay, I'm
going to vent/nag/whatever...I hear and talk to so many teachers who complain a
few weeks into school about how their classes have gotten chaotic & they
have lost control. My first question: did you teach class procedures? They'll
often say, "Yeah, we went over the rules." Noooo...did you go over
class PROCEDURES? There is a huge difference. No cursing in class is a rule.
Telling the kids how you want them to turn in their HW, what to do after
completing class work, and what to do the last 5 minutes of class...are Procedures.
You MUST teach them if you want structure. I always show this PPT! I will tell
the kids I love to have a good time (if we're learning) BUT if I think we're
sacrificing learning FOR a good time, you will see a different person.
Side note: Teaching the Procedures is important, but following
through is probably even more important. Basically: Don't get soft. Stick to
your procedure game plan.
If time: Group Introduction...I will teach the kids how to say "My name is...I am from...I like..." and have them share with their group. We
often don't get to this, but I always keep it in my back-pocket.
That's it, folks. That is my first day. It looks a little
different from the traditional first day but honestly, it excites me as a
teacher so I know it must be exciting to be setting in a student desk!
If you would like to purchase of any of the products I use on the first
day, see below. All products are editable and can be customized for your own