1. You have only one chance to start the year off right. Plan and prepare for a day that will set the tone and expectations for the whole year.
2. Smile and be approachable. When I started teaching, several veteran teachers advised me “not to smile until Christmas”. That was not good advice for creating a classroom environment that is warm and supportive.
3. Set your expectations high. Be specific about what you expect from students. Teach routines and procedures explicitly. Model and practice them. Practice them again. If students don’t perform routines and procedures as you expect them to, stop and re-teach, then have them do it again. Time that you spend in teaching procedures is an investment that will pay high dividends.
4. Teach a routine for everything—what to do when you enter the classroom in the morning, how to hand in your homework, how to line up, how to pass papers down the row, etc.
5. Don’t relax your expectations at the end of the day. When it’s time to send them off, stick to your end-of-day procedure. Model and practice how you need your students to clean up the classroom and get organized to leave. Again, if they don’t follow expectations, stop and try it again.
6. Spend time as needed throughout the first days, and even weeks, of school to make sure that routines become routine. Whenever you see a problem, stop and re-teach. If you become lax with your expectations, behavior will start to deteriorate.