There is so much to think about when getting ready for your first day of school with your class. You are thinking about your classroom setup, trying to create an inviting space. Maybe you're making posters and name tags, setting up your library, and getting student supplies ready. You are probably re-evaluating your classroom expectations and procedures to make things run more smoothly. And if you are reading this post, you also are probably considering running classroom circles this year!
Before you run your circle, you first have to make sure you have an area in your classroom free of furniture where students can sit and see everyone. In elementary school this can often be done on your carpet area. In middle and high school most teachers train their students to quickly move desks aside and create a circle with chairs. This will take a few tries, but with the help of some music and a timer you can create a fun challenge and eventually have a circle routine that will transform your room set up into a circle in less than one minute.
Once you get the students circled up, what do you say?
A First Day of School circle is really just meant to introduce students to the idea of circles by first letting them experience one. Without going into too much explanation on rules or guidelines, or giving them a lecture on the indigenous roots of circles, On the first day, just give them a chance to sit and participate in a circle. That way they'll have a frame of reference so that later you can explain the purpose of a circle, the expectations and guidelines, and how you will be using them in your class. Just give kids an opportunity to see each other, pass the talking piece around to speak, and share their answers to some really low risk questions like:
“What is one thing you are looking forward to this year?”
“What do you want to know about your teacher(s)?"
For younger students, you can ask:
“Who is a friend at school that you know you can count on?”
“What is your favorite part of your school day?”
By experiencing a circle on the first day of school, students will begin to get to know each other better, become comfortable with the circle structure, and have a positive association with it moving forward.
To make it even more fun, you can add an icebreaker or game - but you can also keep it short and straightforward. There is no single right way to run your first day of school circle. Don’t worry about making this a perfect experience - you won’t do them any harm. Just keep your questions lighthearted, positive, and simple.
Feel free to download a copy of the First Day of School Circle Script that I created, I’ll post it on the resources page on my website for the next few weeks for you to download for free. I frequently change the resources on my site so be sure to check back regularly!
Please watch the video on the First Day of School Circle and share with your colleagues and friends!
Comment below, let us know what other first day of school activities you do to create a welcoming classroom!