The first day of school can bring a host of emotions for both teachers and students.
Both of us look forward to the opportunities of learning and educating each other, socializing with peers, and re-establishing our routines. At the same time, both parties are anxious about leaving our comfort zones (aka laziness) and are concerned about upcoming challenges.
We know we need to manage our emotions and utilize them in ways that only enhance our performance, and our students’, in the next school term.
A warm welcome, a back to school treat, or a lovely gesture from our students is all that gets us running with enthusiasm. The same applies to the students who look forward to a memorable first day at school.
We can excite them with fun welcome packs, first-day treats, or warm welcome story from the new teacher. But we need more than excitement. We need this day to be a milestone to which they could look back even behind their emotional fog in later years of life.
We want the first day to be a standard-setter for the communication tone they will use throughout the school year.
We also want to use this opportunity to encourage them to put their best foot forward in the academic arena.
How can we help them take their promotion with responsibility without losing their intrinsic motivation? Here are a few tips:
Best ways to welcome students back to school:
1. Use a Theme
Yes, I know there is nothing uncommon in this method. Most teachers prefer to keep the first day focused on themes. But you can consider several unusual themes.
Focus on grit, diversity, growth mindset, or respect.
Start from using the relevant teachings in class decoration, welcome notes, and story and play time. Choose activities that let children talk about, or experience, these principles. Share your story.
Talk about the practice these principles might require. And get them engaged in actual practice.
And in the end, set the principle their theme of the year. Ask them to collect at least one memory in the coming year that applies the concept and share it with the class at the end of the school year.
2. Include Activity
It is a common practice to welcome students to a decorated classroom. And including activities on the first day of school is not an unheard-of concept.
You can include your touch by using a trending topic to dictate the activity. Or you can personalize the exercise by developing a theme for this activity which surrounds those aspects which are closer to your heart.
Then you can interpret their achievements and outcomes with what you learned from a similar experience you had in the past. Also share how your learning outcome was, or was not, applicable to the real world.
Invite them to present conflicting views and build an atmosphere of healthy confrontation.
3. Study Them
Every teacher admits that students impart just as much, if not more, knowledge to teachers as teachers do to them. For a receptive teacher, every child gives hundreds of lessons about human psychology, communication skills, learning methods, and development.
Use your ability to learn and study these little human beings for their individuality. Learn their greatest strengths and try to know if these strengths are their most treasured ones.
Create a note to their parents to let them know these attributes in their children’s personality. This individualized analysis of their personality will exponentially enhance their trust in you.
4. Offer Open House
One of the best ways to welcome students back to school is to offer an Open House. This could be another great practice to create rapport with the kids. It is rather indirect but is enormously beneficial to know the psychological and familial background of kids.
A major part of children abilities and limitations come from the environment in which they live and parental involvement they enjoy. Meetings with parents and other caregivers will allow the teachers to interpret behaviors from children in the light of parents’ demeanor and engagement levels.
Open house, when combined with individualized insight into the child’s personality, will also help the students in viewing different parts of their environment as a whole.
5. Be Versatile
Use versatility to enhance cooperation among children. Children can be mean, bullies, victims, and lonely. But these traits in them come from their environment.
We can change their behavior by showing them different manners to meet and greet their fellow human beings. Modeling the behavior is an effective method to change the behavior for good. But it’s just the start.
We need to include lonely and victimized children by encouraging those activities in which these kids are more skilled.
Offering a variety of activities on the first day allows us to incorporate the interests of such children into activity mix without us having to know their individual passions.
At the first day of school, our primary focus is on setting the right tone and energy for the upcoming school year. We can achieve this goal by choosing a theme which we consider most important for our students and including several activities, meetings, and stories to the mix.