I have had 16 first weeks of school. I have learned the hard way about how to manage the stress and nerves. This are my top 5 tips for a successful, calm and FUN first week.
#1 Know your schedule.
Knowing where you need to be and when will help you stay calm and confident. There is nothing worse than finding out you are 10 minutes late for lunch and having to scramble to get the kids in line in the middle of an activity. It will throw you off for the whole day. Write down your schedule down to the minute and double check it.
#2 Everything will take longer than you expect.
I would always plan 12 fun activities and only actually have time for 3. I learned to plan for the 3 activities really well to leave enough time for transitions and teaching routines. If I had extra time, we could read an extra book, sing a song or play a fun team building game. Be realistic about what you can actually accomplish the first week of school. It will allow you to be more relaxed and avoid the stress of feeling behind.
#3 Be flexible.
Remember that schedule I told you to write out to the minute? Be prepared for things to change. In a machine as complicated as a school, there will be unexpected glitches. Adopt a flexible mindset and anticipate challenges. I have never had a first day of school where everything went as planned. Never. Things to be prepared for: late arriving buses, cafeteria delays, schedule conflicts, runners and criers, anxious parents, insects, reptiles and rodents.
#4 Follow the KISS principle.
Keep It Simple Stupid. One year I planned for an activity that involved watercolors, glue and glitter.
On the first day of school. Horrible idea. After that, I would plan activities thinking, how can I make this as simple and foolproof as possible? Easy = Low Stress = More Fun. Trust me on this one.
#5 Have fun.
One of my top goals for the first week of school is for the students to have tons of FUN. I want them to go home and tell mom and dad they LOVE school. Your students can't have fun unless you are having fun. Be sure to laugh and smile and feel joy.