5 Things You Actually Need in Your Classroom on the First Day of School

My room at the end of the first couple days of school. The only thing that was there on day one was my chalkboard wall behind my desk. If your admin will let you do this, I highly recommend! It’s a great way to break up all that cinder block blah-ness!

A lot can wait when it comes to getting back to school ready. If you’re feeling pressured to have you room look like a Pinterest dream, remember that who you are and who you present yourself to be on that first day is more important than having a theme or perfect decor.

Here are my 5 must-haves for the first day of school:

  1. LGBTQ+ Visibility and Inclusiveness
  2. A clipboard (with paper)
  3. A seating plan clearly marked
  4. Sticky notes
  5. One goal for the end of the first class period
  1. LGBTQ Visibility and Inclusiveness

Whether or not your students ever tell you about their sexuality, they’re thinking about it constantly. It’s so important for students to feel represented and seen, not just in the texts we teach, but also in the atmosphere of our classroom spaces. I have a really easy way to celebrate inclusiveness below!

It took me longer to add these signs to my desk than it should have, but I’m so glad I did it. Next year they’ll be there for students to see the first day they walk into our classroom.

Download your free copies from Britt (@thesuperheroteacher) here!

2. A Clipboard (with paper)

You’ll likely be jotting down random notes the entire first day (or month, if you’re like me). Nicknames and tricks to remember names and what students reveal they’re interested in offhandedly. Reminders to call parents and check in. I’m never without my clipboard close by.

Go simple and plain
Bright and floral
Or practical

3. A Seating Plan Clearly Marked

I post each class’s seating chart on a PowerPoint slide and also have each student’s seat number on my clipboard and taped onto the backs of their chairs. It can be really scary walking into class the first day and making this transition as clear and direct as possible is huge!

Go to my free resources tab to grab my PowerPoint seating chart template!

4. Sticky Notes

A great way to help students be seen right away is to place a note on their desk as you see them working hard, being positive influences, being brave, etc. If you see some students are immediately ready to be pushed, give them a little secret challenge on their post-it and ask them to signal you when they’ve attempted or accomplished it.

5. One Goal for the End of the Class Period

Obviously we’ll need a lesson for our first day, but I think it’s easy to get ahead of ourselves in what we want to get done. Everything always ends up taking twice as long as I imagined it would, for instance, and I scrap a ton of the lesson. So the more bite-sized the goal, the better. Here are some of my previous goals from years past:

Idea 1: Call on at least 10 different students during the class period. Don’t repeat anyone until you’ve gotten those 10 different voices.

Idea 2: Address every student by name at least once.

Idea 3: Say goodbye and have a great day to each student individually at the end of class by standing in the doorway.

If you’re curious, here are some pictures of how my room came together in the first couple weeks of the year!

Accountable Talk posters. A free download of these is available in my free resources!
A little bulletin board that lived on my desk. Students loved to see the “real” Mrs.Perrotta and it sparked some funny conversations (i.e. “Is that your husband?” “No, that’s my dad.”) I just used cheap wrapping paper to cover the cork board!

As always, thank you so much for reading! I hope this post is helpful as you start to mentally prepare for back to school. See you over at @cobbleandbrick!

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