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Take Five for...

Making Sure the
First Day of School
Goes Smoothly


"Parents who are leaving kindergartners -- or any student who is new to the school -- are nervous. Have a small 'welcoming center' for them and make yourself available to calm their worries." (Jean Carolyn Williams)

Having lists of things to do before school is extremely important. But having lists prepared for Day One is essential! "Have lists that indicate where kids should go when they first arrive at school. Homeroom lists should be posted everywhere. They should be copied to all staff too. Monitors who also are carrying lists should be in the hallways, prepared to meet-and-greet and respond to questions. The most common questions during the first days revolve around What's my schedule? and What time is lunch? Readily available lists will help staff respond to those questions." (Doug Finelli)

"Don't schedule any appointments. Keep a notebook with you all day. Jot down things to do in your office after the last child has left the building or tomorrow -- but don't plan or arrange to be in your office all day." (Lolli Haws)

Principal Les Potter's advice for the first day is simple: Plan, plan, and plan. "Look at hiring staff, the master schedule, student schedules, transportation issues, orientation, supplies, bell schedules, the school handbook, facility repairs, new student registration and schedules The list is long, but if you don't plan first, the first day -- or the first weeks -- can be a disaster. Review all the possible scenarios in your head and on paper, create checklists of what you need to do, then be prepared for the unexpected. You might even meet with an experienced principal or two from nearby schools to pick their brains about planning for the first day." (Les Potter)

Making sure that the end of the first day of school goes as smoothly as the start of the day is important. "At the end of the day, I like to go to each class to see how the teacher's day went and to find out if they have any questions. I make sure to compliment them on a good first day and to reassure them that the rest of the days will be good ones too." (Kim McLean)

Take Five more to read this entire article from Education World's "Principal Files" series:
"Great Starts: Veteran Principals Offer Opening Day Tips"
(Education World -- August 1, 2003)

Looking for more ideas for getting the school year off to a great start? Be sure to check out Education World's Back to School theme page.