Every teacher and their dog has their “expectations” for the classroom, but there are a few things that I like to do on the first day of school to get the kids oriented to my art classroom.

These tips are geared toward high school students, but some of these could be implemented for younger kids as well.

  1. Syllabus. Obviously, you have to go over your expectations for the year. Nothing could be more important then letting the kids know what will and will not tolerated in your class and how you will be grading them. 
  2. Name Tag. After the boring part of your first class is done, I like to let them do a little drawing on their drawer name tag. Some of them will really get into it, others will just write their name and call it a day. At this point, I do not push them. At this stage in the game, I don’t judge, and I certainly don’t grade!
  3. Drawing Game. There are several drawing games that I keep in my arsenal, but the one that I like to do on the first day is called, “Draw it, Pass it.” I like to do this one because it works well with both large and small classes, and it is incredibly easy to explain. Simply give every student a piece of paper and a pencil, then set a timer for 30 seconds or a minute. Start the timer and tell the students to draw anything they want.  When the timer goes off, have them stop, pass the paper to their left, and add the the drawing. Continue drawing and passing until each person has their original drawing. View the results!
  4. Be yourself. This was one of the biggest mistakes that I made my first year. I wanted my class to know who was boss! Rules! Rules! Rules! I am certainly not saying that I am a pushover, my students know what I expect, I am just saying that you need to let them get to know you. Talk to them about your life, ask them about theirs. Whenever possible, be their teacher and their friend. 

My first day of school was last week on Thursday (I cannot believe how early we start!) and we had so little time due to assemblies, so I did not get to do the drawing game. I was exhausted when I got home…but that is to be expected. Especially considering that I am up at 4 or 5 every morning with my 8 month old son.

*sigh* Someday I will sleep in again…

Did you have your first day of school yet? Do you have any special or different procedures that you follow? Let me know in the comments!

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