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First Week of School: Primary Classes

by Christine Jenkins

In the first week of school, it is important for teachers to build a positive classroom culture and to carefully define behaviour expectations for primary students.  Teachers can use engaging picture books as a stepping stone to discussions about behaviour expectations.

1.  Read a carefully chosen book.  Funny stories with very misbehaved children are the best.

No, David!  or David Gets in Trouble, or David Goes to School. all  by David Shannon are perfect for Kindergarten or grade 1.

Miss Nelson is Missing or Miss Nelson is Back both by Harry Allard are great for older primary students.


2.  With input from the children, discuss the behaviour of the story characters.  They won’t need much prompting if they enjoyed the book.

3.  As a group, create a list of a few positive classroom expectations.

My four favourites are:

    • Consider others
    • Act Safety
    • Do your best
    • Be tidy

4.  Create a bulletin board or display of the expectations.

Use a graphic or title to display the classroom behavior goals.  (example:  Our Goals are High! over a graphic of a giraffe).  Ask the students to participate by signing their names to the list or creating pictures to support each behavioural goal.  Be sure to use language and graphics that the children can read and understand.

5.  Refer back to the display as required to prompt appropriate behaviour.

Over the course of the first few weeks or months of school, the teacher can continue to review the expectations. Take the display down when it is no longer needed.  Early lessons to support age appropriate behaviour are a good way to start the year.


What are some other ideas you have used to start up your Primary classroom?


Christine Jenkins is a grade one teacher in Simcoe County. Over the past 24 years, she has worked as a Reading Recovery™ Teacher Leader, a literacy resource teacher, a literacy coach, and has taught grades one through 8. Chris  is passionate about teaching children to read, especially children at risk, and believes that success in the early grades is of the utmost importance. Since 2001, she has concentrated her own professional development in literacy instruction.She holds a Master of Education.

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