I did something completely different this year for the first day of school: I didn't try to WOW my students. Every year I try to be the cool teacher and I want all the students to like me. My thought process was that if they liked me, they would cooperate for me. And to an extent, that's true. But I started this year less dramatically.
Last Spring I was given the book The First Days of School by Harry K. Wong. I started reading it right away and everything in the beginning of the book was obvious: dress professionally, have positive and high expectations, creates lessons for mastery, etc. I do all this. I even changed to SBG a few years ago to better implement mastery. But one sentence really stuck with me, "The effective teacher establishes good control of the class in the very first week of school". Having the students complete an activity the first day of school without having a chance to set procedures and rules has been my recipe for disaster the past few years (like 16 years).
I always make incorrect assumptions about my students knowledge of academics and behavior. This one clearly falls under the behavior category. My past is freckled with lack of classroom discipline, student misbehavior gone unpunished, and loss of control of the classroom. I assume the students know how to act in a classroom. I assume the students know how to take notes. I assume students know how to walk into a classroom. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. All these things need to be taught....every year.
This year I went over this presentation with the students. First Day Presentation. I went over the class rules and procedures. Well, at least the procedures needed the first week. And we practiced them. I posted all rules and procedures and attached the presentation to the schoology page. I'm keeping myself honest too. If a student breaks a rule I follow through with the consequence and keep emotions out of it. It's not personal, it's the classroom rule.
It's only day three, but I'm having the best first 3 days I've ever had. I'm not naive enough to think that this is a silver bullet, but I believe my students have more respect for me and feel secure in knowing that I'll keep control. I hope I don't let them down.