The Power of a First Impression

Well, here it is in case you didn't have a chance to check-it out on Miss V's blog.  This is my post from Blog Swap Sunday.  I hope you enjoy!

Hi, I am Amy the teacher/blogger behind Teaching in Blue Jeans.  First, before you judge me let me say that I do NOT get to teach in blue jeans everyday.  I wish I did, but not so much.  But I do love me some blue jeans.  One day as I was thinking about my beloved blue jeans I started thinking about why I loved them so much: they are comfortable, oh so comfortable; I can dress them up or down which means they are versatile; and most importantly I just feel like myself in them.  When I wear blue jeans I find that I am more willing to try something new or take a risk, more likely to have fun and be silly, more likely to focus and work hard (probably because I am not tugging at hose or thinking about my aching feet (but shoes - that's another blog post entirely)).  Somehow in my brain I went from thinking about all the reasons I love blue jeans to concluding that "the blue jean feeling" is exactly how I want my classroom to be.  I want me students to be comfortable and feel like themselves.  I want them to be willing to work hard, try something new, take risks, have fun and be silly.  So there you have it - my Blue Jean Mentality and the idea behind Teaching in Blue Jeans!

Today I would like to talk to you about the Power of a First Impression.  In high school, I was a cheerleader and my sponsor's favorite thing to quote to us was "You never have a second chance to make a first impression."  At the time it made sense, now that I have 20+ years of life to look back on I know how very true it is.  During my teaching career I have thought about this phrase and about how very true it is.  Like it or not, right or wrong, people make snap judgments in a matter of seconds.  As a teacher I feel like that first impression goes a long way into setting the stage for how my year will go, at least in the minds of my parents and students.  Today I would like to share with you some ideas on how to make a great first impression and get your year off to a great start!

My first impression comes on Meet the Teacher Night.  On this hot Thursday evening, 3 days before the start of school, lots of eager and nervous students and parents come to meet me.  If I'm rushed, unorganized or grumpy, imagine the feeling and first impression they leave with.  I do everything I can to make the students excited to come back and let the parents know that for 7 hours a day their child is in great hands.  Here's some ideas.

1.  Mental Preparation
During my 5 years of teaching I have taught 5 grade levels and been at 3 different schools (although my first year was teaching 3 grade levels at one time).  In that short of time that amounts to a lot of firsts.  My first goal was to make sure that I felt prepared for the task at hand.  Was I ready and confident for the entire year - No Way!  I had to feel comfortable with the school and policies so that during that first impression meeting, I could confidently answer questions or lead people to someone who could.  I also had to make sure that I was taking care of myself.  I will admit that I am the worst at using most of my summer to stress and work for the next year.  It hasn't always worked out so well for my personal well-being and my family time.  I have even finished summer already stressed out and exhausted.  This summer I have really worked at balance and I have to say I am enjoying my summer time more than every before and I feel great!  Make sure to take time for yourself and be mentally read for the year to come.  Some of my favorite ways:  family time, pamper yourself  (pedicure and massage are my favorites), read a good book, take a nap!

2.  Room Preparation
I think we live in a very visual society and I believe that much of that first impression comes from what we see.  (Yes, I know its wrong to do that - but that doesn't make it not true.)  I work very hard to make my classroom look inviting, stimulating, and overall like a fun place to be.  I have received no better compliment than for an adult to say "I wish I could be in your class" or "I wish my kindergarten teacher had a room like this."  Although its great to hear that from an adult these are the things I actually do for the kids!  As a kindergarten teacher one of my goals for Meet the Teacher / First Day of School is to make my kids excited to come back!  For the adults, I want my room to look organized, safe and purposeful.  Now I will be the first to admit that I spend a lot of time getting my room ready.  I will also admit that I am a perfectionist and I want everything to be just right.  But, I know that I am not the only one out there.  Here's a few pictures from my Meet the Teacher night last year.

The hallway outside my classroom.  Welcome to Kindergarten
banner and then each students name on a card.
Sorry for the blurry picture.  Class list next to the
door and a little reminder note for the parents.

Walking in to the classroom here is your first view. 
Each student had a balloon tied to their chair with their name
written on it nice and big.  It really helped the parents find the
right table and the kids LOVED this!  Went a long way to
building excitement.

Notice here that not everything is out - empty book shelf and
most of those containers are empty too.   But I thought it looked
better than empty shelves.

This was my finishing detail on the side of the filing
cabinet.

3.  Be Organized
Unfortunately there is much more to do at Meet the Teacher than just meet the teacher.  There are forms to fill out and school supplies to bring.  If you have these things too, be organized and have a plan.  When I taught 3rd grade my students left all their supplies at their desk and we put them away together on the first day of school since much of what they had stayed in their desk.  For kindergarten I do community supplies so I wanted to have them put away or in use by the first day.  I use labels and bins to have the students and parents divide up their supplies.  This makes it much easier for me to put away and get ready before Monday.  I also had all the necessary forms and papers for each student already in a packet with their name on it sitting on their desk.  Last, I had a little scavenger hunt on the desk for the students to do to help them get acquainted with the classroom.  This helped to keep each family busy so that I could go around and meet everyone without having everyone waiting on me.  Here is the scavenger hunt I used last year from Little Kindergarten Warriors:

 
You can also find more Meet the Teacher ideas from my Pinterest Board.  Just click the picture below to see what else I've been thinking about doing.
 
 
4.  Choose your Attitude
This may actually be the most important of them all.  Adults and kids alike can tell a lot from a person's attitude or even the look on your face.  Despite how long your to do list is, how many meetings you still have to sit through when you have a million other things you could be doing, how nervous or scared you are for the start of school - dig deep and set it all aside.  Choose to be excited, friendly and loving and you will make a great first impression and leave them all wanting more!
 
Thank you Sara for allowing me this opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas with your readers.  I would love for you to come and visit me at Teaching in Blue Jeans for more ideas, tips, occasional ramblings and freebies!
 
 
 

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