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Ahh, this brings back nervous memories just typing this! The first day can be nerve-racking for students and teachers. For first-year math teachers, it can be especially terrifying!
My goal is to always be on the lookout for ways to make life easier for math teachers and students. I know how overwhelming that first day of teaching can feel, so my goal with this post is to give you some ideas of things you can do to make that first day of math class go a little easier.
To help put together this post, I reached out to over 10,000 math teachers for their advice and I was blown away by the wisdom they shared!
If you start to feel overwhelmed by all the tips, take a deep breath and remember you don't need to do it all! Your first day will likely look different from year to year. Here are some of the top pieces of advice from veteran math teachers for you:
Preparing for the First Day of School for Math Teachers
I got hired for my first teaching job right before school started. I didn't have my own classroom so I had to figure out how to organize all my materials on a little cart that I pushed from room to room. It was so stressful!
If you have your own classroom, it helps to get it as organized as you can before school starts. I found that the first few weeks of school were always crazy. Try to get as many organizational systems in place as you can before you get caught up in the busyness of the school year.
Things to do if you have time before the school year begins:
First Day of School Ideas for Math Teachers
Ok, you've gotten as ready as you can be and the first day is here. Now what?
I loved Nancy D.'s advice to "Take a deep breath. Remember everyone is nervous. You can do this."
Some common themes for first-day advice from veteran math teachers were:
First Day of School Activities for Math Teachers
So the big question is what to actually do on the first day with students? Should you go through a syllabus, teach a lesson, or do an ice breaker?
There is no one right answer! Of all the teachers who responded to the survey, there were all sorts of responses. Some teachers like to dive right in and start teaching math on the first day while others like doing fun, get-to-know-you type activities. Some like to go through the syllabus and others like to get students up and moving around the classroom.
I think you need to decide what feels the most natural and comfortable to you. Students are going to remember more about how you made them feel on the first day than what you said or did. Don't feel pressure to do the same thing as the math teacher next door. Pick the activity that feels best for your style of teaching.
If you need some activity ideas, make sure to check out the 30+ first week of school activities from Sarah Carter at Math Equals Love. She has tons of great ideas!
And remember, your first day of school is going to look different from year to year. If you decide to do an ice breaker or teach a lesson this year, it doesn't mean you're committed to that for life. You'll learn what works and what doesn't for you and make adjustments as you go.
Jamie M. had a great point: "Education is always changing. Whether you are new or seasoned, no two years will be the same."
You're going to learn and grow as a math teacher. Don't put too much pressure on yourself and expect the first day to be perfect. It won't be. Prepare, Do Your Best, and Breathe!
I hope this post was helpful for you! Any more suggestions to add? Let me know in the comments below!