What to Include in Your First-Day-of-School Lesson Plan (and What to Leave Out)

Title with paper airplane

Please don’t take your first-day cues from any movie where the teacher stands on a desk. The first day of class should be the most structured day of the year, not the most exciting. It’s all about setting the tone so that you can teach with minimum drama the rest of the year. Your first-day lesson plan is really more of a checklist, and it should include the following elements, most of which will take less time than you expect.

Here’s what to include in your first-day-of-school lesson plans

  1. Meeting students at the door and quietly directing them to an assigned seat.
  2. A smooth first five minutes of class that you’ve micro-planned for minimum drama.
  3. Taking attendance and processing late and no-show students while the class works quietly. (What are they working on? Probably some of these first-day handouts.)
  4. Arranging any necessary paperwork for the office while the class works quietly.
  5. Learning as many of your students’ names as possible while the class works quietly.
  6. Collecting parent contact information before students realize they don’t want you to have their parents’ contact information (while the class works quietly).
  7. Explaining expectations and/or practicing procedures, depending on the ages of your students.
  8. A “flotation device” activity in case your planned lesson ends sooner than expected.

Here’s what not to include in your first-day-of-school lesson plans

  • Any activity that depends on textbooks that haven’t been delivered yet, technology that hasn’t been fixed yet, or copies that someone else is supposed to make. Assume that the only items in your classroom on Monday will be those that were there when you left school on Thursday unless you have foxed the situation yourself.
  • That activity where your kids help you make up the rules.

And, if you wish you had editable, customizable first-day-of-school lesson plans and handouts. . .

Here’s where you can find the first-day forms I developed for my own classroom in an editable Microsoft Word document on Teachers Pay Teachers. The document includes first-day lesson plans, handouts, surveys, and a few assignments, including “flotation device activities.

Best of luck as you prepare for your first day.

Sign up for the School Year Starter Kit

Sign up for the Sanity-Saving School Year Starter Kit

Three days of (totally free) emails to help teachers cut through the overwhelm and prepare for the first day of class.