First Day of School: Building Trust Is Worth Every Minute | Liza Garonzik | 10 Min Read

August 18, 2022

What do you do in your first class of the year? What do students do for their first homework assignment? (How) do these early experiences reflect your values as a teacher? 

Some teachers have beloved rituals they use to set the tone for their class on opening day and others have an annual panic attack that ends in logistical karate: “let’s review the syllabus, get oriented to the LMS, and brainstorm the class contract in forty-five minutes!” In my experience, opening days of school can be as challenging for teachers as they are for students, so having a plan heading into them can be a big win, especially if that plan lives into your values as a teacher!

For me, it always helped to take a step back and think about how I wanted students to feel after the first week of being in my classroom—not just what I had to get them to do to “start” my course. Whether my students were six or sixteen years old, my goals were the same: I knew I wanted students to feel seen and known as human beings and learners. I also wanted students to feel my humanity—I’m…

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Liza Garonzik

Liza Garonzik is the Founder of R.E.A.L. Discussion, a program that trains faculty to (re)teach Gen-Z students the discussion skills they need for success in learning — and real life. Her work is informed by an interdisciplinary research base and experience as a student, teacher, administrator, and trustee in diverse independent schools. Get in touch at [email protected] — there's little she loves more than a great conversation!