Planning as a First-Year Teacher

I remember the first year I had my own classroom. I’d proudly
planned out my first week early on in the summer (even before I had a job lined
up) but once the school year began, it became evident that I had not planned
enough. Kids were consistently finishing activities way earlier than I’d anticipated,
and I ended up planning on the fly more often than I liked.

 

They just didn’t have the stamina yet to do things for a
long chunk of time, and I didn’t have enough experience to come up with ideas
quickly without feeling stressed out! Now, I have a week’s worth of simple day plans I amend as needed each year – and I’m sharing them with you!

The Key to A Successful First Week of School

The key to a successful first week is not worrying too much about the academics. Focus on fun, relationships, and routines! The academics will come later. It can feel like a waste of time doing a billion ice breakers for the first week of school, but that time will pay off later when you have established solid relationships with and among your students.

A Week at A Glance

After you give these plans a quick read-through, I’d encourage you to make your own Shape of the Week document. I do mine on Powerpoint and print it on the biggest paper we have at school. You can see what it looks like here. Once you’ve done yours up (I do mine a term at a time), add in special themed days and make note of assemblies. Then start filling in the first week with ideas from these free first week of school day plans!

Free First Week of School Day Plans

Here are my sample day plans for the first week of school! To make things easier, I’ve linked activities that I’ve pulled from other people online straight to those teachers’ social media accounts. I’ve also linked all the printables and books I use in case you want your own copies!

Larissa stands in front of a whiteboard dated "Thursday, September 9th, 2016". Underneath, it says, "5 Facts About You, Magic show..." the rest is cut off by her head.

Monday day plans for the first week of school

Time

Activity

Materials

8:30-8:45

Attendance

Students colour All About Me posters

All About Me poster/student

Extra colouring and writing supplies for kids who didn’t bring any

8:45-9:00

Catch the Cat Name Game

Ice Breaker Game

Back-to-School Ice Breaker Slides

Stuffed cat (or a ball) to toss

9:00-9:15

Read Aloud: What Are Your Words?

What Are Your Words? by Katherine Locke

9:15-9:30

Name Tags

Student surveys (ask for: pronouns, preferred names, devices they have access to at home, languages they speak, anything else they want you to know).

Continue posters

Cardstock for name tags

1 survey/student

9:30-9:45

Teach expectations for walking around and through the school.

 Practice.

 

 Expectations include:

 

·        Walking quietly indoors

·        Differences in walking outside and inside

·        Walking to and from classes

·        Passing classrooms without starring creepily into the windows

·        Showing kids where the bathrooms are

9:45-10:00

Read Aloud:  Ruby Finds a Worry

Students write and submit anonymous worries or questions. They can also give suggestions and hopes for the year. Students who don’t know what to write can draw a picture and submit that instead.

Students choose independent reading books for after recess

Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival

1/4 sheets of scrap paper/student

10:00-10:15

Recess

Pre-read and sort student worries and questions.

10:15-10:40

Independent Reading

10:40-11:00

Address student worries and answer questions.

11:00-11:30

Math Assessment

11:40-11:50

Decorate or create sketchbooks

11:50-12:00

Teach expectations for lunch time.

ex. noise level, waste disposal, where and how to line up

Optional: create an anchor chart

12:00-12:30

Lunch

12:30-1:00

Classroom scavenger hunt (see this post for more information)

1 scavenger hunt sheet or piece of scrap paper per group.

1:00-1:25

Extra outdoor play time (they need it! Going to back to school after summertime can be rough for kids).

1:25-1:35

Classroom rules activity

1:35-2:00

Label, sort, and store school supplies

ex. label duotangs and journals. Keep extra supplies in labelled bags and give to the teacher.

THEN… free drawing or reading.

Optional: Make a list on the board of what needs to be labelled and how.

Optional: Draw a diagram of how to fit everything neatly in desks or bins.

2:00-2:30

Clean up, agendas, First Day Cake (see this post for more information), play outside.

Cake, cake-cutting implement, napkins or plats, treats for kids who can’t eat the cake

Tuesday day plans for the first week of school

Time

Activity

Materials

8:30-8:45

Attendance

Students continue All About Me posters or complete sketchbook prompt

All About Me poster/student

Extra colouring and writing supplies for kids who didn’t bring any

8:45-9:00

Name Game

Ice Breaker Game

9:00-9:15

Inference Mini-Lesson (see this post for ideas)

9:15-9:45

Investigate the Classroom activity

9:45-10:00

Read Aloud: You Hold Me Up

You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray-Smith

10:00-10:15

Recess

Pre-read and sort student worries and questions.

10:15-10:40

Independent Reading

10:40-11:00

You Hold Me Up brainstorm – how can we hold one another up?

Art – draw a picture of someone being ‘held up’ in the school community.

1 piece of paper/student

11:00-11:30

Letter to My Teacher & Student Self-Evaluation

Letter to My Teacher template/student

1 Student Self-Evaluation of Subjects template/student

11:30-11:50

Read Aloud: As Long as the Rivers Flow, chapter 1

This book ends with a heavy topic, which I normally would like to avoid in the first week of school. However, with Orange Shirt Day landing at the end of the month in Canada, I want to make sure my students have time to learn about Indian Residential Schools before that day comes.

As Long as the Rivers Flow by Larry Loyie

Optional: Identity Journal where students can make connections and draw contrasts between Lawrence’s family and their own.

11:50-12:00

Review expectations for lunch time.

ex. noise level, waste disposal, where and how to line up

Optional: create an anchor chart

12:00-12:30

Lunch

12:30-1:00

Continue math assessment.

Free drawing, reading, or writing for those who are finished all they can do.

The math assessments from yesterday.

1:00-1:20

Extra outdoor play time

 

1:20-1:30

Practice walk (like yesterday)

1:30-2:10

Set up writer’s notebooks (I like to do use side of a notebook for Creative Writing and the other side as a Writer’s Notebook)

Creative writing

Notebooks

2:10-2:30

Clean up, agendas, gratitude share-out

Wednesday day plans for the first week of school

Time

Activity

Materials

8:30-8:45

Attendance

Students complete All About Me posters or complete sketchbook prompt

All About Me poster/student

Extra colouring and writing supplies for kids who didn’t bring any

8:45-9:00

Name Game

Ice Breaker Game

9:00-9:15

Inference Review

9:15-9:45

Investigate the Teacher activity

9:45-10:00

Read Aloud: Tip Top Cat or any other book you could use to foster discussion about persistence after failure.

Tip Top Cat by C. Roger Mader

10:00-10:15

Recess

Pre-read and sort student worries and questions.

10:15-10:40

Independent Reading

10:40-11:00

Back-to-School Bingo

11:00-11:30

Reading sample

A non-fiction reading article with questions of your choice to gauge student comprehension.

To make the most of that article, try some of these non-fiction reading activities too!

11:30-11:50

Read Aloud: As Long as the Rivers Flow, chapter 2

As Long as the Rivers Flow by Larry Loyie

Optional: Identity Journal where students can make connections and draw contrasts between Lawrence’s family and their own.

11:50-12:00

Review expectations for lunch time.

ex. noise level, waste disposal, where and how to line up

Optional: create an anchor chart

12:00-12:30

Lunch

12:30-1:00

Continue math assessment.

Coloring Squared pages for those who are finished.

The math assessments from yesterday.

A variety of Coloring Squared pages (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division)

1:00-1:20

Extra outdoor play time

 

1:20-1:45

Creative Writing

Notebook

1:45-2:15

You Hold Me Up art OR sketchbook free-drawing

Art from Tuesday

Sketchbooks

2:15-2:30

Clean up, agendas, gratitude share-out

Thursday day plans for the first week of school

Time

Activity

Materials

8:30-8:45

Attendance

Small Group Challenge: How many words can you make with your names (first, middle, last)

Scrap paper OR whiteboard sleeves and markers

8:45-9:00

Ice Breaker

9:00-9:20

Bar Graphing Mini-Lesson

-How to read a bar graph

-Parts of a bar graph

-Good/bad questions for bar graphs with a thumbs-up survey

Sample bar graph to label on anchor chart paper

Anchor chart markers

Slideshow with good and bad examples of bar graph questions

9:20-10:00

Reading Bar Graph worksheets

Any worksheets with sample graphs for students to practice pulling information from

10:00-10:15

Recess

Pre-read and sort student worries and questions.

10:15-10:40

Independent Reading

10:40-11:00

Self Portraits

1 piece of paper/student

Optional: Art with Mrs. E’s drawing guides

11:00-11:30

STEM Challenge: Paper airplane contests OR paper towers

Scrap paper

Masking tape (for towers)

11:30-11:50

Read Aloud: As Long as the Rivers Flow, chapter 3

As Long as the Rivers Flow by Larry Loyie

Optional: Identity Journal where students can make connections and draw contrasts between Lawrence’s family and their own.

11:50-12:00

Review expectations for lunch time.

ex. noise level, waste disposal, where and how to line up

Optional: create an anchor chart

12:00-12:30

Lunch

12:30-1:00

Continue math assessment.

Coloring Squared pages for those who are finished.

OR Math games

The math assessments from yesterday.

A variety of Coloring Squared pages (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division)

Math game boards or task cards, dice, and counters

1:00-1:45

Capture the Flag with another class

 

1:45-2:15

Creative Writing

Notebooks

2:15-2:30

Clean up, agendas, gratitude share-out

Friday day plans for the first week of school

Time

Activity

Materials

8:30-8:45

Attendance

Ice Breaker Game

8:45-8:55

Introduce and try Life Groups (see this post for more information)

8:55-9:20

Catch-Up Time:

You Hold Me Up art 

-Math assessment

-Coloring squared Pages

-Self-portraits

Sketchbooks, creative writing, reading

9:20-10:00

STEM Challenge: Marshmallows and Spaghetti Towers

Marshmallows

Spaghetti

10:00-10:15

Recess

Pre-read and sort student worries and questions.

10:15-10:40

Independent Reading

10:40-10:55

Consensograms

Hang chart paper around the room and brainstorm a multiple-choice opinion question for each one. Have students go around the room with a marker (NOT a Sharpie; they bleed) and make a mark to represent their vote on each paper.

Chart Paper

Chart Paper markers

10:55-11:30

Model turning a consensogram into a bar graph by soliciting student help.

 

Have students turn the remaining consensograms into bar graphs.

Chart paper (preferably graph paper chart paper) and markers OR a projected graph paper grid on a whiteboard  and some whiteboard markers.

Graph paper for students

11:30-11:50

Read Aloud: As Long as the Rivers Flow, chapter 4

As Long as the Rivers Flow by Larry Loyie

11:50-12:00

Review expectations for lunch time.

ex. noise level, waste disposal, where and how to line up

Optional: create an anchor chart

12:00-12:30

Lunch

12:30-12:45

Hand out Health Workbooks.

Students work on Physical Activity article and complete reflection.

Health Workbook/student

12:45-1:30

Outline expectations for rainy day activities (co-create if possible)

Let students practice the rainy day activities (ex. board games)

 

Board games, craft supplies, drawing books, iPads (if there will be an adult in the room)

1:30-2:00

Creative Writing

Notebooks

2:00-2:30

Small Group Challenge: How many sentences can you make with the letters from names of people in your life group? Who can make the longest sentence?

Scrap paper

2:15-2:30

Clean up, agendas, gratitude share-out

Skip some of the first week of school stress with these print-and-go back-to-school resources!

Be sure to save this article for next year!

Free back-to-school day plans for the first week of school. Kids wearing backpacks are pictured running toward school.