Four Steps to Planning the First Week of School

Four Steps to Planning the First Week of School

Whether you're a first year or a veteran teacher, planning the first week of school can be really overwhelming. Because I know how hard that can be, I've created four simple steps to work through that planning process! These steps are an excerpt from my larger product, the First Week Teacher Planning Guide!

Step 1: Procedures

Find or make a list of all the procedures you need established in your classroom. There's a list in my planning guide if you need an idea of where to start. Fill in ideas for how you plan to run each of the scenarios on your list. Don't worry, you can always change them later! Just get your ideas down so you will have something to go off on the first day. Consider procedures in the following areas:

  • Morning Routines
  • Assignments
  • Student Needs
  • End of Day Routines
  • Outside the Classroom
  • Communication

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it should help you get started. I like to picture my ideal day, then write down the student behaviors that will help me get there. Also consider your class rules, rewards, and consequences.

Step 2: Get Ideas

This is the fun part! Spend some time on Pinterest! Read some teacher blogs! Google first week ideas! Ask your teammates for their first week plans! Check out Facebook, Instagram, or Teachers Pay Teachers! Highlight or collect the ideas that look interesting to you, and make notes as necessary. Don't worry about narrowing down exactly which activities you want to do yet. I've included my first week plans from this past year and a bunch of first week resources and ideas in my planning guide to help with this step!

Step 3: Picture Your First Week

By this point you probably have some kind of vision of what your first week will look like. Start narrowing down the ideas you've collected to specific activities you want to use. Include details about these activities for you to reference when you start scheduling your first week. Make sure to have ideas for get-to-know-you and procedural activities, literacy, math, science/social studies, and writing.

Step 4: Put Your Plan Together

Pull out your teacher planner and start scheduling your first week!

  • Add scheduled school or grade-wide activities to your schedule first, including lunch, recess, assemblies, etc. Also add preassessments and data collection you need done in the first little bit of school. Include assignments you have such as recess or lunch duty, team collaboration, etc. so you don’t forget in the craziness of the first week!

  • Where possible, keep your schedule the way it will be after the first couple weeks, even if you aren’t starting on curriculum right away. This is where the previous section comes in! Add subject specific activities and procedures in the correlating time slot where possible. Be sure to help students build stamina but making short activities to begin with, then lengthening them. Keep in mind they are coming off of summer break- they aren’t used to having to sit still! If you do daily 5, CAFÉ, or another type of rotations for literacy or math, introduce one a day until students have had a chance to practice all of them is a good way to get centers up and running.

  • Add get-to-know-you activities in leftover time slots. Be sure to keep a couple activities in your back pocket in case there is extra time. The first week is always a rollercoaster! Don’t be afraid to spend more time on procedures and get-to-know-you type activities. This will establish a classroom community and solid expectations, making the rest of your year run more smoothly.

  • I do small box planning the rest of the school year, but I like to explicitly plan out the first week or so to make the transition back to school easier! It also helps me to remember the random things that are scheduled during that week.


If you need more support, check out my First Week Teacher Planning Guide. It includes 7 EDITABLE pages of management and procedure list and planning worksheets, 10 pages of first week sample plans, 8 pages of first week get-to-know-you and core content activity ideas, 4 EDITABLE pages for gathering and organizing your ideas, 11 EDITABLE pages for you to plan your first week, and 39 pages of ready-to-go first week activities, worksheets, lesson plans, and posters.

Click the image below to check out my First Week Planning Guide on Teachers Pay Teachers!


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