9 questions to ask your students on the first day (or first week) of school

Day 1 Blog PostOn the first day of school, I have the privilege of spending approximately 15 minutes with each of my six classes. Rather than simply going over rules and procedures or passing out the syllabus, I use that time to accomplish three main things:

  1. I greet students one at a time at the door, checking their names off the roll (which makes entering attendance easier and more efficient) and welcoming them to my class.
  2. I make sure that my students learn a little about me as both a teacher and human being. I let them know how I excited I am to be their teacher and how much I am looking forward to the school year with all of them.
  3. I begin to build relationships by encouraging my students to express themselves through writing. It’s amazing how much I learn about them from just nine simple questions.

For example, as I read through their responses after school this week, I learned that:

  • Many students prefer to go by different names (but probably would’ve been too shy to correct me if I hadn’t asked).
  • My students are charming, kind, overprotective, crazy, laid back, hilarious, intelligent, lovable, special, loyal, respectful, persistent, creative, hard-working, competitive, and motivated.
  • My students are aspiring nurses, mechanics, business owners, journalists, engineers, real estate agents, lawyers, doctors, hair stylists, fashion designers, psychiatrists, social workers, accountants, and teachers.
  • My students love to eat delicious food, and have dreams of traveling to Paris, Rome, Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Venezuela, Canada, Puerto Rico, Alaska, and Dubai.
  • My students plan to attend colleges such as LSU, TSU, Belmont, Vanderbilt, Florida, Oregon, MTSU, NYU, Austin Peay, UCLA, Spellman, WKU, Harvard, Georgia Tech, Fisk, Lipscomb, and Stanford.
  • My students are talented dancers, pianists, singers, artists, boxers, writers, readers, photographers, soccer players, shoppers, texters, snap-chatters, chefs, and track stars.
  • One student said “I like to be pushed to my potential” while another said “I’m not very good at English.”
  • One student said “I love food and books (it’s my favorite combination)” while another said “I will work hard, but I will joke with you.”
  • One student let me know that “I don’t like to be called out in front of the class” while another said “I’m very shy, but once you get to know me, I’m very goofy and loud.”
  • One student reunited with his mother this summer, while another saw his mother pass away.

If you have any great first-day or first-week strategies or activities, feel free to share them in the comments or on Twitter!


Author: Jarred Amato

High school English teacher who is passionate about improving TN education, one book at a time.

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