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8 Things Every Student Needs On The First Day Of School


What Students Need On The First Day Of School

by TeachThought Staff

What kinds of supplies do students need on the first day of school? Well, that depends. But what are some universal ‘things’ students need to start the year off right with the best chance to become their very best?

  1. The Right Mindset

The beliefs and ideas that students have about themselves lead to a mindset that can spur them to success or lead to self-fulfilling prophecies of struggles and failure.

Take challenges–difficult exams or projects or even content areas. Here are three possible beliefs, and all three can lead to very different outcomes.

Mindset 1: I believe challenges are a normal part of learning, and the experience of overcoming them is worth more than any temporary sense of failure or success.

Mindset 2: I dislike challenges, but will do my best and hopefully figure each out as they come.

Mindset 3: I’m not very good at overcoming challenges, and try to avoid them at all costs.

The right mindset leads to everything else.

See also How To Help Your Students Develop A Growth Mindset In Your Classroom

2. A Sense Of Community & Opportunity

The need for students to belong will almost always outweigh their desire to perform well academically. They need not be mutually exclusive, but if one has to go, you can guess which one the student will often choose. Everyone needs somebody, sometime. The first day of school is definitely one of those times. It is hugely comforting to glance around an unfamiliar room or school to find a familiar face.

3. Safety And Structure

At home and at school, students need not just structure, but also the right amount and form of structure. For some, this means a quiet place to do homework or someone to sit with them nightly and talk about their day. Others need a different kind of structure–a creative and nurturing community of peers.

4. Confidence

Not much can be achieved without a sense of confidence and self-efficacy. This can vary wildly from one class to another, which makes it important for the student to show up on the first day of school with a reason to believe that he or she can succeed. Of course, confidence in large part–and ideally–comes from having sufficient background knowledge and skills to complete assignments.

5. Sufficient Background Knowledge And Skills

Technically, a student could have significant deficits in knowledge and skill and still, with a lot of work from both the teacher, family, and student, still have a ‘good school year.’ In fact, this often happens. But it’s very difficult and doesn’t put the teacher, the school, and most importantly the child in the best position to be successful in or out of the classroom.

6. A Sense of Purpose

Why am I here? What will I learn? What can I do with what I know?

If their purpose can be reduced to ‘getting good grades,’ most learning experiences will be quickly reduced to ‘grades’ as well.

7. Curiosity

Curiosity can lead to a sense of purpose, and the reverse is true as well. Curiosity can be about knowledge, relationships, and professions–the more curious the student is, the more open his or her mind will be to grow.

8. A Toolbox Of Strategies

Similar to ‘Structure,’ strategies are the kinds of things that students benefit from often without knowing.

Reading strategies, note-taking strategies, conflict-resolution strategies, test-taking strategies–even what to do when being bullied or witnessing bullying. Strategies are the ‘ways to make things happen,’ and the more a student has in their toolbox on the first day of school, the more successful they have the chance to be.



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Andy Neal

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