The First Days of School: Then and Now

Today is the beginning of the new school year for me and my colleagues, and many of you will be getting back into the saddle in the next couple of weeks.  As I prepare, my thoughts have returned to three of my past posts that still seem timely.

The first is called “Mean ‘Til Hallowe’een: Classroom Discipline and the First Day of the Semester.” I wrote this in 2007 and return to it at the beginning of every term.  The question: does it help to be strict and unsmiling for the first few weeks?

Another is a commentary on one of my favourite books for educators: Harry and Rosemary Wong’s The First Days of School.  If you have a week or so before you start teaching, run out and get your hands on this book and read it before classes begin.  Even if you’ve already started, the book has many, many valuable insights about knowing yourself as a teacher and being the most effective teacher you can be.

Finally, I am returning to the teaching resolutions I made at the beginning of 2010, and I am renewing those resolutions for the coming semester.  Do you have resolutions for this school year?  I’d love to hear them.

Feel free to leave comments on the posts themselves, or to comment below.  You can also visit my Facebook Page, “Like” it, and leave your thoughts there!

Image by Simona Jakov


10 thoughts on “The First Days of School: Then and Now

  1. Like you, I spent my first six years in the “unintentionally inviting” stage. It was only when I switched schools that I realized I had to work towards the mastery stage. My survival stage was blessedly short and experienced only in night classes.

    Re the second post, have you already broken resolution two? A bad schedule can do that to a person! I am also determined to find time for meditation, exercise and friendships. As I am wont to do these days, I think again to the foundations of puppy happiness: exercise, discipline and affection. Seems like there are some parallels here as well.


    1. POE: I confess, I have indeed been thinking of how many 2-to-6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays I have to endure before the end of the semester…but maybe once things get rolling, that will change? And I too am renewing my vow to not ONLY work between now and Xmas, but sometimes keeping that resolution causes more stress than it alleviates.


  2. I’ve just recently left school and I’m now about to go off to uni, but I’m still getting that strange buzz that I always used to get at the beginning of a new term, it’s really strange! Hope you keep up those resolutions for this term…or semester haha 🙂


  3. Fall semesters are getting started here in CA too. I know best about community colleges, but even the public schools are getting started. I taught college level English for many years–and appreciate your post because it brought back many good memories from when I was in the classroom as well as from observing many excellent teachers over the years after I moved into administration. You are so right that you need a plan to work at the art and craft of teaching, to make each day count, and to keep setting new learning goals for yourself and your students.

    I just posted an entry praising community colleges because they provide that individual attention that can really make a difference in terms of student success. My appreciation goes out to all teachers and other campus professionals who help make education work. Here is the link to my post:


  4. Resolutions. It is funny how I always see the beginning of the school year as the beginning of the year. January 1st? What’s that? My new year occurs sometime around the end of August.

    This year has had a crazy start…too busy for words. Between my new class, my daughter’s new class, and many after school activities…I am exhausted.

    Resolutions? Balance…get a little more organized…and clean out those darn storage cabinets!

    Enjoy your “New Year”!


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