Middle school can be a rough transition for students, especially if they’re moving from elementary school. It’s up to teachers to make sure that they feel welcome and secure in their new environment.
Really, it’s not surprising that the first week of middle school is the most stressful for most kids. They’re making new friends, learning new teachers’ names, and figuring out how to get from point A to point B without getting lost.
The first week of school lays the foundation for how students feel about the classes, their classmates, and their relationship with you, their teacher.
In the first week of middle school, introduce yourself to the class, set realistic expectations, and keep activities relaxed to establish classroom culture.
Why Is The First Week Of Middle School Important?
Middle schoolers have a lot on their plates during the school day. They’re learning new material, meeting new people, and trying to find their place in the social hierarchy of middle school. Add in changing classes every 40 minutes or so, and it’s no wonder that students can feel overwhelmed by the demands placed on them each day.
The first week of middle school is important because students adapt to a new environment, get used to a new schedule, and get comfortable with new classmates and teachers.
Reason 1. Students Adapt To A New Environment
Middle school is a huge transition for students, and they need time to adapt to a new environment. This is especially true for students who are transferring from elementary school to middle school or are registered in a new school.
Middle school can be intimidating for children to start their education because of the different social dynamics and academic challenges that come with this new stage of life.
Even if your students are seasoned middle schoolers, there is still an adjustment period for them to adapt to a new classroom or classmates that may be different from the previous year. If a student ends up in a class without their former friends, or in a group that they don’t know very well, they may take a little longer to feel comfortable.
Reason 2. Students Get Used To A New Schedule
It can be hard for middle school students to adjust to a new schedule during the first week of school. After all, they’ve probably just had more freedom and independence than ever during summer.
They’re used to having more freedom and less structure at home, so it’s not always easy for them to slide right back into early mornings and a rigid school schedule.
Some students find it difficult to focus on their work when they’re still trying to figure out where their classes are located or how to get there. Anxiety about opening lockers, switching classrooms, and making it to the right place at the right time is a real challenge.
Don’t underestimate the importance of giving students in all grade levels grace in this area. Even if they attended your school last year, they may still need to adjust to navigating from a different locker space, or to new classrooms.
Reason 3. Students and Teachers Get Comfortable With The Class
The first week of school is when teachers get a feel for the students in the class and their interactions. Teachers are not only trying to learn about their students but figure out the dynamics of the classroom.
By taking it easy the first few days and observing student interactions, you can create a classroom environment that is conducive to learning. Every class is different, and you may find that a particular group of students can handle more challenging novels or mature essay topics, or maybe you decide that they need to stick with topics that are more age appropriate.
By keeping the first week of school casual, it gives students the ever-important time to build relationships and settle in with their new group of peers. Only when they are authentically interacting will you get a good gauge on behavior, maturity, and academic levels.
How Do Students Feel About Going Back To School?
The beginning of a new school year can be a time of excitement and anxiety for middle school students. It’s the end of summer and the start of a new year.
Middle school students are in the transition stage between elementary and high school. They’ve left behind the carefree days of kindergarten through fifth grade and are now expected to handle more responsibility and work independently in class.
Some middle school students will be excited about returning to school because they enjoy learning new things, while others will dread going back because they’re not ready to leave their families or friends behind.
Students often return to school excited, nervous, and sometimes apathetic.
Feeling 1. Most Kids Are Excited To Go Back To School
Many middle school students are eager to return to school because they enjoy learning new things and interacting with their friends. There’s also an added sense of independence that comes with being in middle school as opposed to elementary school or high school.
Middle schoolers are able to make their own decisions about what they want to do during lunchtime or after class without having to ask permission from an adult first, and this is something most of them look forward to.
In addition, some middle schoolers enjoy getting a fresh start at a new school by making new friends and reconnecting with old ones.
Feeling 2. Students Feel Nervous Entering A New School
Many middle schoolers feel nervous about making new friends in middle school. They worry about being accepted and fitting in. Their social life may be different than it was in elementary school because they will have more choices now — they can choose their friends based on interests and hobbies, instead of just where they live or what grade they are in.
Even returning students are sometimes nervous about new classes and new teachers. It’s not uncommon for middle schoolers to be anxious about being placed in a class with the super strict teacher, or other rumors that fly around the school. Being separated from their pre-established friendships is also a very common worry.
Feeling 3. Kids Sometimes Feel Apathetic
Sometimes middle schoolers feel apathetic about going back to school. They may not be as excited as they were in elementary school and may not have much motivation to attend class. This is normal and one of the reasons it is so important to make sure their first week back sets a positive tone for the year.
Students who don’t have a clear sense of what’s expected of them at middle school are more likely to feel apathetic about going back to school than those who strongly understand what’s expected of them academically and socially.
What should teachers do during the first week of middle school?
The first week of school is an important time for teachers. It’s a time to get to know your students and create a classroom culture where everyone feels welcome. The first few days are also the time for you to set expectations for your class, get caught up on any paperwork, and set yourself up for success.
During the first week of school, teachers should set realistic routines and expectations, assess the class, and establish communication channels.
Tip 1. Set Realistic Routines & Expectations
The first days of school are typically filled with new routines, expectations, and curriculum. Make sure everyone is on the same page early on so that students have time to adjust before things get too stressful.
Middle schoolers need structure and consistency in their lives. Establishing routines will help them feel more comfortable in their new environment and allow them to focus on learning instead of wondering what they should do next. Routines can include things like when they should arrive at school each day or what they should bring with them each day. They can also include expectations for what to do when they finish an assignment.
You can also use routines to create expectations for behavior inside and outside class. For example, you may tell students that you expect them to be on time every morning or that you require all homework assignments to be turned in by Friday at noon.
Tip 2. Assess The Class Academically and Emotionally
One of the most important things a teacher can do on the first day of school is assess their middle school class. This will help you to provide your students with individualized instruction and support in order to meet their needs and improve their learning.
Teachers should consider students’ background knowledge, interests, motivation levels, and expected challenges.
There is no need to conduct a formal assessment on the first day of school, but carefully gauging the emotional maturity level of the class can help you set appropriate expectations.
Tip 3. Establish Communication Channels for Students and Caregivers
The first day of class is important for middle school teachers to establish communication with their students. It can be difficult to get the attention of middle schoolers, but it’s important that they know what is expected of them and how to stay on track.
The first day of class is a good opportunity to let the kids know that you are there for them and that you are willing to work with them. It’s also a good time for you to get a feel for your students’ personalities and interests to double check that your lessons meet their needs.
What do you do on the first day of English class?
The first day of middle school English class is especially important for teachers. It’s their chance to set the stage for the year and show students exactly what they can expect from their English teacher.
Middle school English classes require a lot more than elementary school.
Student success often depends on how well they adapt to routines and managing their independence within school.
On the first day of English class, introduce yourself, establish classroom culture, and set students up for success.
Activity 1. Introduce Yourself To Your Students
Your first impression on your students will stick with them all year long. If they feel uncomfortable or don’t like you, they may be reluctant to participate in class or ask questions, which could hinder their learning experience.
They can get to know you as a person to ward off preconceived ideas about what kind of teacher you will be. This is your opportunity to let them know that you relate to them, are approachable, and they can trust you as a teacher.
Activity 2. Establish Classroom Culture
Be sure to set ground rules and expectations early so that all students know what type of behavior is expected during class time. It’s also important for teachers to establish how they want their students to treat each other and themselves. This will help keep everyone focused on learning rather than on social issues like who sits next to whom or whether someone has been mean to them.
Activity 3. Set Students Up For Success
You’ve probably already got a good idea of what you want to cover in the coming year. Write down your plans and share them with your students at the beginning of the year. This will help them stay on track and avoid being overwhelmed by everything they have to learn.
Discuss what’s expected of students in your class — both in terms of behavior and performance on assignments — and the consequences if those expectations aren’t met.
First Week Of Middle School Activities – ELA
Activity 1. Student Information Survey
A student information survey can be used as an ice breaker activity or as an assessment tool to determine how much support each student needs at this point in time. It also gives you as a teacher important information that can help you best meet each student’s needs.
Teachers can use the results of this survey to plan strategies or just learn about student interests. If you see a pattern in the results, you can tailor lessons or projects to engage students or relate information to their interests to make better connections.
It also gives you a good idea about basic reading comprehension and writing skills, and you can use this as a baseline to assess further progress.
Activity 2. Classmate Interview
Interviewing classmates will give students an opportunity to get to know their new peers before the school year starts in full force. It also gives them an opportunity to practice their interviewing skills (which comes in handy for developing research skills)
A classmate interview is also fun because it helps kids get excited about their new school year. They may find that someone else in the class has a similar interest and can help forge stronger relationships.
Activity 3. Learning Survey
A student learning survey can help middle school teachers better understand their students’ innate learning styles and preferences. Many teachers use these surveys as part of the first week of school. This helps them get an idea of how each student learns best, so they can provide instruction that meets those needs.
Student learning surveys also give kids an opportunity to reflect and gain awareness of their preferences. Understanding this can help them tailor their own study habits or recognize where they could improve.
Activity 4. Goal Setting
A goal-setting activity can help students feel more confident and in control of their lives as they enter middle school. This type of activity is especially helpful if your school has recently implemented a new grading system or if you want to set clear expectations for behavior and performance.
Have students come up with specific goals instead of just saying something like, “I want to do better in school.” Instead, ask them what specific things they want to improve about themselves or their work habits this year.
Activity 5. English Trivia
Trivia games are another fun way to engage students in language arts while they’re getting used to the school year. Trivia games can be played during class or as homework assignments that extend beyond the classroom walls and into the home. Also, this is great because it helps parents become more involved in what their children are learning at school.
It also gives you an opportunity to assess their knowledge in a low-pressure environment. This is a good opportunity to introduce prizes or rewards, and gives quieter kids a reason to speak up.
Activity 6. Teacher/Student Roles
By asking students to evaluate the characteristics of both teachers and students and then come up with a list of what makes a good teacher and student, they understand what is expected of them in school and how they should behave in class.
Also, it can help the students understand what they want from teachers and peers. By doing this activity, they may be able to determine if they are getting what they need or if there is something missing in their learning experience. They can also reflect on how to be a good student and classmate themselves.
This is a great way to help middle schoolers develop their critical thinking skills while also giving them an opportunity to think about their own experiences as students and teachers.
Activity 7. Find Someone Who…
Teachers can help their students create more positive relationships by playing a game called “Find Someone Who.” This game allows students to share something about themselves while also helping them find common interests with each other. This game is also great because it helps build relationships between students and teachers!
Activity 8. Desert Island
One fun icebreaker that teachers can use is called “desert island.” In this activity, the teacher asks the to write down five things they would take with them if they were stranded on a desert island. Then, ask students to share their answers with the class.
You hit on several important points with one activity by getting students to work in groups to explain why they would choose each item. They are building relationships, working together, and using logical reasoning skills. Then, when they present to the class, they practice presentation skills.
Activity 9. Rules/Consequences
Brainstorming rules and consequences is a great way to set up expectations for middle school students during the first week of school.
When students participate in setting the rules and consequences of the classroom, they are actively involved in creating classroom culture. They may be more likely to follow expectations if the rules are “theirs” and they have mutually decided on consequences.
Middle schoolers are protective of their independence, and if you’ve ever met one, you’ll know that they don’t like being told what to do. When you involve them in setting classroom expectations, you show them that you respect them, trust their decision making skills, and see them as equal partners in the learning process.
Activity 10. Visual Schedule
One thing that can help students keep track of everything is creating a visual representation of their schedule. This will allow them to see at a glance what time each class meets, their teacher, and what items they need to get from their lockers.
Because middle school students often juggle multiple classes with varying schedules, creating this visual representation is especially important. It will help them stay on top of their work while they learn how to manage their time effectively.
The first week of middle school is chaotic and can only be described as an adjustment period. Instead of dreading it or trying to coax your class right into academics, lean into the transition process. In the long run, being able to observe, develop strong relationships, and create a relaxed, trusting atmosphere in your ELA classroom will serve you and your students all year long.
Want activities to help ease your middle school students back into the school year? Get started with my Back To School Activities for ELA bundle!
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