36 Ways to Welcome Your Students on the First Day of School

The first day of school is the most important day of the year.  Here are some ways you make students feel positive and welcome as they enter your classroom (followed by ten ways NOT to welcome your students):

  1. Say hello!
  2. Shake their hands as they come in.
  3. Give them a high five.
  4. Welcome them in Pig Latin.
  5. Say Hola!
  6. Write a message on the chalkboard/overhead/digital screen.
  7. Have a positive song playing as they enter.
  8. Play a musical instrument.
  9. Recite an inspirational poem.
  10. Sing a happy song.
  11. Give them each a piece of candy.
  12. Give them a fortune cookie.
  13. Scramble the words Welcome Back on the board and have them solve it.
  14. Do a tap dance.
  15. Play a clip from Dead Poets Society or another inspirational movie.
  16. Have them punch a time clock as they enter.
  17. Perform a singing telegram.
  18. Say Wilkommen!
  19. Introduce yourself.
  20. Teach them how to line dance
  21. Yell, “Let’s get ready to rumble!”
  22. Play “Zombie Nation” by Kernkraft 400.
  23. Play a YouTube video.
  24. Breakdance.
  25. Take a picture of the class to remember their names.
  26. Lead them in a prayer service.
  27. Hand them a free pencil customized with your name.
  28. Recite “Pioneers, O Pioneers” by Walt Whitman.
  29. Ask all your online teacher friends to send well wishes and advice via email, and read the best ones.
  30. Bring in a brown bag filled with objects that define you, explain the objects, then invite your students to do the same.
  31. Laugh like a mad scientist (BWAH HAH HAH!).
  32. Bring in plain donuts, frosting and cake decorations and invite them to decorate their own breakfast (or make one for a friend).
  33. Have them introduce themselves.
  34. Have them introduce themselves while doing jumping jacks.
  35. Have them break through a big Go Get ‘Em poster, like a football team running onto the field.
  36. Ask for their autographs for your autograph book of Future Famous People.

Be sure to add your own suggestions by commenting below.

And, as a bonus, 10 ways NOT to welcome students back:

  1. Show them a slide show of your summer vacation.
  2. Tell them the results of your annual physical.
  3. Hand them a discipline slip as they enter and tell them not to lose it, because they’ll probably need it soon.
  4. Slap them on the butt and say, “Way to go! You actually got up in time to make it to school!”
  5. Sit at your desk reading Retirement Planning for the Aging Schoolteacher
  6. Assign them seats based on last year’s standardized test results, highest scores in the back, lowest scores in the front.
  7. Play grunge music and start a mosh pit.
  8. As they walk into your room, have your principal point out individual students who got in trouble last year.
  9. Hand them a Christmas list so they can get working on your gift early.
  10. And finally, point out the big countdown you’ve posted in the front of the room that marks the number of days until school gets out.

9 Responses

  1. Paul Bogush says:

    Ummmm…I thought they were suppose to bring us donuts.
    Great list!

  2. On the first day of school I give each student a small wooden heart. I give them about 15 minutes to decorate their heart however they’d like, but on one side they have to write their name and on the other they have to write the one quality they like most about themselves.

    When they’re done, we put all the hearts into a basket and I walk around the room with it letting each student draw one heart. The classmate they select is their prayer partner for the year; the person they are supposed to keep in their prayers all year long. The kids really like it!

  3. Amy Strecker says:

    Great list, but I do have to disagree with #10 on your “do nots.” I always have a count down in my classroom (high school) and talked to my kids about our sense of urgency and how little time we had to get so much done. I started class each day saying something along the lines of: “Good morning! Thank you for being here today. Today we are going to (insert objective). It is (insert date) and we have (insert count down days) until you are going to (insert big goal — in my case it was score a 4 — top score– on our state exam).” My kids all knew there wasn’t a second to waste because we had lots to do!

  4. Nick says:

    Ah, the beauty of blogs! Someone always has another perspective than mine and shows me a new way of looking at something. Thanks for your insight, Amy!

  5. Nick says:

    Karen: Beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Heathers says:

    Make sure to pronounce your W’s like V’s in #18! I think I’m going to get my fortune cookies for my homeroom since I have freshman.

  7. Heather says:

    I’m a little disappointed in my last comment – not well written. This means I should go to bed…

  8. SFG says:

    Nice. For #21 and 35, maybe hire Michael Buffer and rent out a smoke machine (if you work at a private high school with a big endowment):

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