Revisiting the First Day of School

 
 
Revisiting the First Day of School:
What students desire and expect from teachers on the first day vs. what they are receiving

Research developed by Kayti Quenneville in collaboration with Dr. Douglas Brooks
Data Analysis and Report by Kayti Quenneville


 
 
Review of Research

      In the early 1980s, Dr. Douglas Brooks pioneered research on the first day of school.  Brooks collected data by “videotaping and comparing first-year ‘brand new’ teachers with veteran ‘superstar’ teachers during their first, second, tenth, and 28th days of school” (Brooks, 1985).  This data, along with teacher and student interviews showed that the first day of school “sets the stage” and can be crucial in determining teacher effectiveness for the entire school year.  Brooks’ research identified seven first-day needs of adolescent students.  On the first day of school, students want to know the following (in sequence):
Am I in the right room?
Where am I supposed to sit?
What are the rules of this teacher?
What will I be doing this course?
How will I be evaluated?
Who is the teacher as a person?
Will the teacher treat me as a human being?   (Brooks, 1985)

Although Brooks’ research has been widely accepted in the professional education community (and has been distributed on a large scale since being adopted by Harry Wong, whose book, The First Days of School, is a hallmark of teachers’ personal libraries), follow-up research has not been attempted with any regularity.  This research study aligns with Brooks’ original research on the first day of school but focuses specifically on student perceptions of the first day.

Design of Study

In collaboration with Dr. Douglas Brooks, I developed a written questionnaire for middle grade students concerning their reactions to and suggestions for what teachers do on the first day of school.  I also surveyed the students quantitatively on whether their teachers performed specific actions on the first day of school that were closely related to the seven first-day needs that Brooks identified.
            This questionnaire was administered in my two field experiences in southern Ohio in the spring of 2007.  My first field placement was in the fifth grade of a K-5 elementary school in mid-February.  In this placement, I received completed questionnaires back from 32 fifth-grade students, who were all taught by a team of three teachers, each teaching their own content area and sharing social studies instruction (each taught their homeroom class social studies).  My second field placement was in the seventh and eighth grades of a 6-8 middle school in late March.  In this placement, I received completed questionnaires back from 11 seventh-grader students and 25 eighth-grade students.  These students attended received instruction from different teachers for each of their individual content courses.  Between my two placements, a total of 68 students returned the questionnaire (I gave out about 60 in first field and close to 100 in second field).  Two students from first field completed only the first page of the questionnaire; these responses are not included in the data for purposes of consistency.
In both settings, students were given the questionnaire on brightly colored paper with ample time (at least 3 days) for completion.  I prefaced the distribution of the questionnaire with a brief description of my research goals and a detailed explanation of what I expected from participants.  I was very clear that results would not be shared with their teachers and that students were not required to include their name on the questionnaire.  I encouraged students to be as specific, honest, and detailed as possible in their responses.  Many students asked, “What if I can’t remember?” and I prompted them to try their best.  I informed students that they could respond to the yes/no questions in reference to any teacher of their choice (not necessarily the teacher whose class they were in when I distributed the questionnaire.  Thus, some of the quantitative results are reflective of the same teacher’s practices but this is not necessarily the case. 

Note: in my second field placement, my cooperating teacher offered students bonus points for thoughtfully filling out the questionnaire and returning it to me.  This certainly could have influenced the population of students who chose to respond.   

Results - Quantitative

GENDER

STUDENT ID
(Grade level &
identification number)

Ask you
what you
wanted to
be called?

Tell you
where to sit?

Explaining
classroom
rules?

Describe
what you
would learn?

Describe
how you
would be
graded?

Determine
how you
learn best?

Tell you
about
himself/
herself?

Female

5.1

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Female

5.2

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Male

5.3

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Female

5.4

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Male

5.5

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Male

5.6

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Female

5.7

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

No

No

Yes

Male

5.8

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Female

5.9

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Female

5.10

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

Yes

Male

5.11

No

No

Yes

No

No

No

No

Male

5.12

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Female

5.13

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Male

5.14

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

No

Male

5.15

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

Female

5.16

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

No

Female

5.17

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

Female

5.18

No

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

Female

5.19

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Female

5.20

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Female

5.21

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Female

5.22

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

Male

5.23

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Female

5.24

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Female

5.25

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Female

5.26

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Female

5.27

Yes

Yes

Yes

-

No

No

Yes

Male

5.28

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

Female

5.29

Yes

No

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

Male

5.30

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Male

5.31

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Male

5.32

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Female

7.1

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

Female

7.2

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

-

Female

7.3

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Female

7.4

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Female

7.5

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Male

7.6

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Female

7.7

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Male

7.8

Yes

No

-

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Female

7.9

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

Female

7.10

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Female

7.11

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

GENDER

STUDENT ID
(Grade level &
identification number)

Ask you
what you
wanted to
be called?

Tell you
where to sit?

Explaining
classroom
rules?

Describe
what you
would learn?

Describe
how you
would be
graded?

Determine
how you
learn best?

Tell you
about
himself/
herself?

Female

8.1

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Female

8.2

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Female

8.3

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Male

8.4

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Male

8.5

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

Female

8.6

No

No

Yes

Yes

-

No

Yes

Female

8.7

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Male

8.8

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Male

8.9

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Male

8.10

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Male

8.11

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Female

8.12

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

Male

8.13

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Female

8.14

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

-

Yes

Female

8.15

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Male

8.16

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

No

No

Yes

Female

8.17

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Female

8.18

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Female

8.19

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Female

8.20

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Female

8.21

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Female

8.22

Yes

No

No

Yes

No

No

Yes

Female

8.23

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

Male

8.24

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Male

8.25

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

"-" indicates no answer marked or both answers marked for that question

 

Data Analysis – Quantitative Data

 

Ask you
what you
wanted to
be called?

Tell you
where to sit?

Explaining
classroom
rules?

Describe
what you
would learn?

Describe
how you
would be
graded?

Determine
how you
learn best?

Tell you
about
himself/
herself?

# Yes

48

44

62

53

34

25

60

# No

20

24

5

14

33

42

7

# -

0

0

1

1

1

1

1

Totals

68

68

68

68

68

68

68

"-" indicates no answer marked or both answers marked for that question

 

 

Conclusions from Quantitative Data

            Based on the data, it appears that the teachers of the respondents best satisfy the students’ first-day needs for knowing classroom rules, knowing what they will be learning and knowing about their teacher as a person.  Most of the students reported that they were asked what they wanted to be called as well as told where to sit.  Exactly half of the students reported being told about evaluation methods on the first day.  Only 25 respondents (less than 40%) indicated that their teachers assessed their preferred learning styles on the first day of school.  While these results are somewhat encouraging because they indicate that several teachers are following recommendations for effective first days, there is definitely room for improvement, particularly in the areas of communicating evaluative methods to students and inventorying students’ preferred learning styles on the first day.

 

Results – Qualitative

Question 1: What would you like teachers to tell you on the first day of school?  Give some examples.

I would like teachers to tell us a lot about themselves so we can get to know each other better.  example: favorite band, hobbies, favorite animal, and etc.

How to do division.

Tell people about yourself.
I would like them to tell me what we will be doing throughout the year (in general).  I would also like them to tell me the classroom rules.
I would tell them to act yourself.
That I’m a good student.
I would want my teachers to tell me that “It’s going to be a fun year,” or “I’m glad I get to teach you all.”
Were [sic] everything is. How other days are different.
I would like teachers to say welcome and help you to your seat.  I think teachers should not give you homework on the first day of school.
I would like teachers to tell me about what kind of things we will do during the year.  My 3rd grade teacher told me we were having a pioneer day and things like that.
What they expect of us.  Tell about yourself.
That learning can be fun, but it is not.  That you’re an A+ student.  No reading for 1 semester.
I want teachers to say there [sic] names and what they will be teaching.
Give me my schedule.  Tell me about themselves [sic].  Where they live or if they have[…]

Welcome to a rec [sic] class.
One [sic] of the first day of school I would want the teacher to tell me that she really wanted to know me.
Wha [sic] I would like teachers to tell me on the first day of school is the rules, schedule, and what we would do that quarter.
 Good morning we will start the day with a spelling game.  Good morning please find a seat.
 I would like teachers to tell us a little about us + what they like to teach.
 I would like my teachers to say: 1I look forward to work with you.  2You are a great student.
 That where [sic] a great class and she likes kids.
 I would like the teachers to tell me that I did not have to do any work or that I could do nothing but play.
 How was your summer?  No homework on first day of school.
 1. You all get candy.  2. We are going to have a good time.  3. You can sit with friends when you read AR.
I would like my teachers to tell me to have a great school year and that the year would be fun.
 I would like teachers to tell me everything that were [sic] going to do.  I would also like them to tell me about themselves.
 What is the grade all about.  What will we do.
 That we have no homework for the 1st day.  To tell us the rules so we don’t break them.
 Hello, how was your summer.
 What your [sic] supposed to do.  Theres [sic] no homework.
 No homework for the whole year.
I would like the teachers to tell us about what we will learn and our schedule for the year.
Tell us alot [sic] about you and just get to know eachother [sic].
I love your outfit.  I’m a cool teacher.  Youll [sic] love 7th grade.
No hw for the whole year!
I like to know mostly names + pet peaves [sic] (I don’t want first to be last!).
On the first day of school I would love to hear we had no homework.
I would like my teacher to tell me what we would be doing this year.
What we will be learning.  About how many test/quizes [sic] will we have.
I am a really nice teacher, we are going to have fun and there will not be a lot of tests.
Just to go over what we will learn all year and the rules.
I would like teachers to tell me there was no homework on the first day of school.
you [sic] hair looks nice” or a different compliment.
I would like them to explane [sic] what might be doing this year, like what Mrs. Krauss told us in the begining [sic] of the year.
I would like them to tell me the rules of their classroom so I know what to expect.  Some teachers are picky about certain things.
I would like them to tell us a little bit of themselves.  Like were [sic] they live[,] their favorite color and stuff like that.
That there [sic] not mean and there [sic] class is easy.
No homework for a week.
Some things I like to hear are just things about themselves like where they’re from and stuff like that.
What they expect from use [sic].  Some of the main projects we will be doing.  How they would grade us (on anything).  Classroom rules (we don’t already know).
No homework!
I want them to tell me if this is going to be a major homework or little homework class.
I would like them to tell me what the year’s going to be like, throughout the year, and what they expect.  Most teachers leave us hanging when they don’t tell you what it will be like, and we might start grades off, low, because we don’t know what they expect from us.
My name is blah blah blah.  How are you today?
I would like teachers to be cool about it.  Don’t just go into the rules[;] be individual.  Say something like about you[;] make us laugh.
You can sit anywhere you want.  And move around when you want to – unless the teacher is talking.
What could I do to help you guys learn?  Or what can I do to help you guys learn and have fun at the same time?
On the first day of school, I would like for my teachers to tell me a little bit about themselves, and what to expect over the course of the year that we have to be together [sic].
Something I like some teacher to tell me on the first day of school is go outside for resess [sic] for 1 hour.
I would like teachers to tell me that they don’t pick and choose favorites.  Because most teachers always do. 
I would like teachers to explain what we will learn, their teaching styles, and how the class will go.
I would like them to tell me about them, like where they’re from, whats their hobbys [sic]?  Those kinds of things.  Also a heads up on what we’re doing that year.  And ask about.  What we do.  Hobbies, sports things like that, get involed [sic] with us.
I would like my teachers to tell me how that class is going to go, how I’m going to be graded and the rules for their classroom.
I would like them to tell us what the rules are, what they expect from us, and want them to tell us how they punish people so I know my boundaries.
That this will be a fun class even though it’s a boring subject but that the teacher will make it fun while it’s educational. (to have fun learning.)
That we are going to have fun and we wont have any work to ever take home.
This class is easy to get an A for that class.  No homework.
I would like to tell me the schedule and what is going to be happening throughout the year.

Question 2: Please describe a specific thing that a teacher did for you on the first day of school.
The teacher I have in homeroom was extra-nice to me because I get nervous the first day of school and was extra nervous since it was a new school.  I liked that she was extra nice.
She was nice and gave me stuff I needed.
The teacher told us about themselves.
One the first day of school a teacher told me a eaiser [sic] way to solve a math problem.
They ask all the kids to say their names
I asked questions and the teacher awnserd [sic] them.  That helped alot [sic].
One thing my teacher did was tell us her name.
Told us about ower [sic] paner [sic] and schelu [sic].  [our planner and schedule]
The teacher helped me around school.
One thing one of my teachers did for me was send a tape to me telling about herself.
She let us get to know one other student.
Showed me where the books are in the classroom.
 She enterdosed [sic] herself by writing it on the board and asked us what our name was.
Took me to my classroom.
What this year is going to be.
I answered a question wrong and she helped me figure it out.
A specific thing that a teacher did for me on the first day of school was to show me where I sat.
She gave us candy.
She helped me do things.  I needed help.
My teacher helped me get my things organized and put in the right places in my desk.
Once a teacher helped me find my classroom.
A specific thing that a teacher did for me was she gave me and the whole class a candy bar.
No homework.
She told us her name and went straight to work on proofreading.
A specific thing that a teacher did for me is not give me homework the first couple days of school.
My teacher talked to us individualy [sic] and made us feel welcome.
We whent [sic] to the computer lab.
She told me what rooms I would be having classes in.
We would say our name.  We would make posters that tell about us.
Tell me what to do.
She told me where to sit.
My teacher helped me by telling me things I did not get and helping me with words I did not know.
Give us homework sometimes.
Didn’t give homework.  Watched movies.
Helped me find a class.
I was new so I asked Tony Hixon in homeroom to help me find the band room + he immediatly [sic] was my friend.
A teacher I had gave us suckers on the first day.
One thing the teacher did for us was tell us what we would be doing. 
Mr. Hammonds told us all what to expect in 7th grade.  He told us if we would be having science projects.
She did not give us any homework.
They went over rules.
The teacher described the classroom rules.
One time in second grad [sic] a teacher gave me a hug.
They went through the rules a hundred times it got really old really fast except Mrs. Rice gave us homework on the first day.
Mostly the only thing teachers ever do is talk about themselves and what the class will be like, and their rules.
I don’t remember something has done for me on the first day of school.
Told me where each room is.
Did not give use [sic] homework for that first day.
I honestly dont [sic] remember a specific thing a teacher has done for me on the first thing.
They handed out papers about how we will be graded and some f the main projects we will be doing.
They let me slide on a paper I missed.
Miss Lindloff, in 5th grade, let us ask questions about her so we felt more acquainted.
I think the only thing a teacher really did for me was[…]
Gave me alot [sic] of pencils and paper.
One thing a teacher did for me was be cool.  Like she talked to us as if she was one of us.
The teacher got my name memorized.
They were nice to me…well some of them but I like how…well one of them it seems like I can tell them anything.
On the first day of school, my teacher told us about herself and her teaching style.  She also went over the classroom rules, how we would be graded, and what we would learn.
One thing on day of school one of my teachers gave us and exsiment [sic] out of the book.
A teacher told me that she thought I would I would be one of her best student, that listenened [sic].
I remember a teacher asking about us and writing about our interests and hobbies.
One the first day of school my teacher let us sit were we wanted to and was very nice.
Mrs. Robinson told us exacually [sic] how we did things in her class, how we were to behave and the punishments if we broke one of her rules.
Mr. Pieratt told us what he was going to teach us and how he was going to do it.
Introduced herself/himself.
Gave me my shirt back from last year that I let her borrow cause it was Johnny Cash.
Didn’t assign anything just talked about their class all day.
One of my teachers spent the whole period memorizing names and I thought that was cool.

Question 3: What do teachers do on the first day to help you feel more comfortable and excited about the upcoming school year?

They tell us some exciting things about themselves and tell us about fun things that will happen later on in the year.
She tells us fun stuff that we are going to do.
Who is in your class.
I think they would tell you in general what we would be doing in school.
They tell you what you will learn during the year.
Tell us what will be hapning [sic] throughout the year.
They tell us what is going to happen all year.
They try to keep a smile to make think every thing is ok.
They do really fun activitys [sic] to help me with my work.
The teachers tell me what the fun things that are going to happen this year.
She tells about herself.
Teachers sound excited about the school year.
When she says that we will have many fun acitivities and feildtrips [sic].
They’re happy and excited to meet us.
She doenst [sic] look mean.
If you don’t know something now, you’ll know it at the end of the year.
The teachers had us tell each other about ourselves.
She/he will tell you some exiting [sic] things like a party.
Teachers tell me that we will play games that help us learn.
The teachers introduce themselves and help us.
Normally teacher tell their class about themselves.
They help you get used to the other kids and there self [sic] (teacher).
Tell us about experiments and stuff.
They tell us what we will be doing though out [sic] the year.
On the first day of school teachers let us get more comfortable with being around new people.
Well to tell you the truth we don’t do much on the first day of school so it makes us feel excited about the days to come.
She help you understand what the anshan [sic] is about.
They tell you what days you’ll be going to art, music, gym, etc.
She would explain what we would be doing for the year.
We’ll have recess.
They will give you an outline of all the fun things you will be doing that year.
Same teachers tell what kind of field trips will have exsiting [sic] peace asembalees [sic]. 
Just talking to get to know eachother [sic].
Not much homework.  Help you if you need it.
They tell you what is planed [sic].
They tell us about activities from the past + answer questions.
They sit you by your friends.
They tell us like what we could and couldn’t do.
They tell u [sic] how much fun it will be.  What to expect I that sorta [sic] thing.
They are nice to us and say nice things.
They tell it will be fun and everything make you feel confertable [sic].
Tell use what we will be doing.
They sometimes play a game to learn people’s names or one teacher gave us a syllabus.
tell you what you might do this year to make you feel more comfortable.
Well if the teacher seems nice I feel more comfortable.  If they act really strict then I’m not as excited.
When teachers tell me about themselves it makes me feel comfortable.  I also like it when teachers are funny.
They say school is not hard.
Tell you there [sic] name.  Tell use [sic] what we will be doing in that class.
I feel comfortable when teachers are open and funny on the first day.  I like it when they try to get to know their students.
Tell personal (funny) stories.  Tell use [sic] fun things we will be doing.
They fill you in about the year.
They tell what kinds of things we’ll learn and what we’ll do.
Lots of times, I think they almost lie, because they’ll say we’re going to have so much fun, and they’ll say they we won’t get much homework.  They’ll also try to be nicer than they usually would, so it kinda [sic] make them seem two-faced.
They be nice and don’t give us homework.
They usually say they’re not mean but you know how that goes.
Don’t give you homework and make the first a fun day.
They tell you how they are… how they can make it fun for you or they just tell you up coming events maybe good or bad.
They should let you know that they expect you to try your best, but they want you to have fun while in their class, even if you don’t get to do whatever, whenever.
They make it fun, give us candy and let us go outside.
They tell you all the fun stuff that were [sic] going to do and forget about the boring.
I feel more comfortable when they let us know that they are looking forward to the school year and getting to know us.
My teacher told me about her and asked about all of us and got us involed [sic] so we wouldn’t be shy and just let us know we could go to her for help and things like that.
The upcoming school year isn’t fun, exciting and we’re not looking forward to it so theres [sic] no point in trying to get us happy about school.  We’re not in the 1st grade!
They show me their personality, and if they are fun and like jokes and can kid around, then I get excited about being in their class.
They say the “funnest” things were going to be doing their year.  We can choose our seats.
They introduce themselves and tell a little bit about what they like to do and things like that.
Made us laugh was some what laid back and said we would do a lot of labs. 
They tell us fun, cool stuff that we are going to do throughout the year.  At least some teachers do.

Question 4: What do teachers do on the first day that make you feel anxious/nervous or not want to keep coming to school?
I have not really ever had a teacher say something that would make me feel like that.  The worst is that she/he might say, “You have homework the first day of school.”
She tells us how hard we have to work.
Teachers give us math books.
I think they would have to yell and say that this school year is going to be so much harder and different than other years.
They tell you what fun stuff you’ll do.
Tell you the rules and get interduced [sic] to your other classmates.
They tell us that we have to work.
Test us to see what we know.
Giving us a ton of homework would make me not want to come to school.  They also onley [sic] stair [sic] at you when they are talking to the hole [sic] class.
The teachers show me around their rooms and one had a loft that you could go in and read.  They also showed me the desk I sit at.
The tests were [sic] going to take.
Somethimes [sic] the teacher will act fun but that scares me a little bit.
By saying it will get harder.
If they would yell or make me upset I wouldn’t want to come back.  There wasn’t any teachers that treated me that badly.
Mrs. Ruppert is happy.
Teachers tell you youll [sic] do a lot of work over the year.
When I have something really important to ask and I get ignored.
That we have a test coming up.
Teachers do not do anything to make me fell [sic] anxious/nervous.
The teacher make [sic] work fun on the first day.
When a teacher yells on the first day of school it makes you nervous.
Teachers in 5th grade give out planners and give out 4 binders.
Grades.
They tell us that we will be learning alot [sic] that we will have to know by 6th grade.
On the first day of school teachers yell which makes me not want to keep coming to school.
If the teachers take the first day of school like a real day of school and get mad.
She asked what is the mater [sic] that you want to tell me.
Nothing that I can think of.
To call me up to thare [sic] desk and talk to me in a men [sic] town [sic]. [mean tone]
Theres [sic] lots homerwork [sic] every day.
They will tell you about all the homework you will be doing.
Nothing that I could think of.
I don’t like boring, yelling, or too much work at the beginning of the year.
Project.
Say your [sic] going to have hw! [homework]
Tell us about what their punishments are.
About failing class.
The thang [sic] that most of my teachers say on the first day of school that makes me not want to come is how many days are left.
Tell u [sic] about the March Testing.  Tell u [sic] that if your [sic] bad they can get mean.
By telling them about the first things they are doing this year.
They might get mad at you for being way to [sic] loud.
They put me by people I don’t like.
blank]
It’s not what the teachers do it if their [sic] a teacher I’ve never had or their [sic] a new teacher.
If they seem very strict or mean, or if I feel I’m not going to like them very well.  I can’t usually tell if I’m going to like them or not until after the first day though.
Some teachers yell on the first day and I can not take teachers that yell.
They make you do work.
Play games on Friday and that makes me anxious.  We get do to same same.
When they’re constantly yelling or they seem uptight.
Telling us about presentations that we have to do (I hate presentations).
They give you a bunch of work.
Some teachers talk to [sic] much about work, and that tells me, this will be a class with lots of homework.
They don’t do anything to make me not want to come to school (except homework) because I love school!  Although sometimes they give out homework on the first day.
They be nice.
I don’t really recall anything.  Something along the lines of making the year fun not boring.
Give you home work [sic] and yell at you.
I give homework… a lot” you take tests every week in this class so be prepared.
blank]
They give us exsiment [sic] out of the books on the first day of school.
Give you work, on the first day.
Telling us the class will  be difficult of alot [sic] of homework.
Well she didn’t really do anything that I remember, I was just nervous because I was in a high school class and I didn’t know if she was gonna [sic] be a good teacher or not.
Their [sic] rude, or mean and their rules are way to [sic] strick [sic].
If they give me homework, then I start to get nervous, or if they talk about upcoming projects, I start to get anxious.
They grade really strictly and want you to be silent and put us away from our friends.
They give me homework, or yell, or say that they won’t put up with “any nonsence” [sic].
They yelled at someone and seemed angry alot [sic] about little things.
They tell us that it’s going to be hard and that we are going to do alot [sic] of work.

Question 5: If you had a chance to talk with a brand new teacher before their first day of school, what would you tell them to do on the first day?
I would tell them about that I usaully [sic] get nervous the first day of school every year.  I’d also tell them what a lot of kids like to do, to help them get along better with us.
To try to make students feel comftrbal [sic] there.
I would tell the teacher what I like to do.
I would tell them to smile alot [sic] and try to call on everyone with there [sic] hand up.
To ask the kids to share what they want to about themselfes [sic].
Not to give us any homework.
I would tell them that we should not have homework on the first day.
Show them everything like how to do things were [sic] to put things.
Let the kids have fun.  Don’t push them.  it’s the first day of school they might want to have fun.
I would tell them to help me understand things better by doing them in the way I know.
Throw a party.
I would tell them at least 7 old rules and make up at least 5 new ones.
I would would [sic] tell them to very  funny because some kids like funny teachers.
To be happy and excited and to plan fun activities.
I would say no because that the theacshar [sic] whould [sic] not like that.
Be really nice to the students.
I would tell them that the scenery might be different but I don’t think the kids’ attitude would be different.
Maybe if we read out of a text book to play popcorn.
Teach us things I need to learn.
I would tell them to be nice and tell about themselves.
Introuduce [sic] themselves and be nice.
I would tell them to have a little welcome back to school party.
Give us no homework.
Try to let us have a little fun you know, talk, get to know each other.  Don’t give us too much work.
If I had the chance to talk with a brand new teacher I would tell them to pass out a peice [sic] of candy.
I would tell them to take the first day of school really easy and make sure you make your kids feel comfortable [sic].
What is your’ll [sic] name.
Let us have a field trip so we could look forward to it.
Have a party and do only fun workseets [sic] and watch movies.
Make it easy.
I would tell them to take lunch count.
I would tell them to be there [sic] self and tell the kids exciting thing we will learn.
Just be a fun person and make us feel comfurtable [sic] that will make your class our favorite.
Don’t know.
Be very very nice.
Don’t be to strict but lay rules, do punish but not unreasonably + hold on loosely but don’t let go, students are like sand hold it free in your palm + it says if you hold it to [sic] tightly it will seep through your fingers.
I would ask them to bring candy.
I would tell them not to be really boring.  And to be nice.
Just explain what u [sic] are going to do.  Try not to look so nervous.  Make the first day as fun as possible.
Not give a lot of paper and pencil work.
I would tell them about myself and ask what we are doing that year.
I would tell them to seat us by our friends and be nice.
Be yourself and don’t try too hard to be “cool.”
I would tell a little about myself and ask what they might teach this year.
I guess I would tell them to give a welcoming impression.
I would tell them not to be nervous and to be themselves.  I would also tell them to stay calm and to be patient.
I would tell them to be honest.
Not give us homework for a while and let us play games.
To stay calm and be patient with all of the students.  Try to get a comfortable vibe going.  Get them to laugh.
Be friendly.  Don’t be nervous because the students are just as nervous.  Have all of your plans for the class period organized.  Know what you are going to talk about.
Not to give us homework.
Go easy on us – we just got out of summer and have short attention spans.”
Tell the class about yourself, because it will make them feel more comfortable, and don’t give the class too much work, too soon.
To just be easy on us because we got to get used to the schedule.
If I had the chance to talk to a brand new teacher I would tell them to just be yourself.  Don’t try n’ [sic] play the role of a teacher you’re not.
I would give them tips on which kids to watch out for.
Try not to loose [sic] patients [sic]…be kind.  Mean everything you say… try to be fun so your [sic] not hated.  Relax on the homework and tests!  THEY CAUSE STRESS… let me tell you!
I would tell them to just relax.  None of us are looking at you or judgeing [sic] you, so just chill out, and be yourself.  There’s no reason to put all of that pressure on your shoulders.
I would tell them to let us go out side [sic] and play some game or basketball or something like that.
A hands-on activity that kids will enjoy.
Just to take it easy on the class, no not assign homework on weekends so that they will not over-load the students.
I would tell them everything I told them to do in question number one and 3!
Don’t try to be our friend but be nice[,] have simple rules but don’t be like Dr. Howard!
I would tell the to be fun and enjoy the jokes and stuff but still keep the class on track and teach them so they understand the material.
Play a game, a fun game, where it helps us get to know the teacher and she gets to know us.
Smile, tell jokes and introduce themselves, and what they like to do.
Be laid back on things and just be cool and try not to yell at anyone.
Make sure they knew every students [sic] name so theres [sic] no confusion.

Question 6: If you had a chance to talk with a brand new teacher before their first day of school, what would you tell them to do on the first day?
These are some examples: 1. Hands and feet to yourselves.  2. No talking when the teacher’s talking.  3. Turn homework in.  4. Finish work: “Git’r done.”  5. Never say, “I can’t.”  6. Be nice to others
No running and stuff like that.
No running, shouting, and no talking while the teacher is talking.
They told me: no running, threat others how you want to be treated, no chair tipping and no name calling.
She told us about that if we wanted to speak we had to raise our hand.
No running in the halls.  No punching or kicking
No running.  No talking while takeing [sic] a test.
No runing [sic].  No throwing.  No hiting [sic].
Our teachear [sic] told us that we should rais [sic] our hand before we talk.  Another was don’t talk when the teach talks.  Those are some rules.
To work on things that you were supposed to only when you had to work alone.  No cheating.
She told us the classroom rules.
To stay quiet intel [sic] it is your turn to speek [sic].
She said not to bring you own things to school because thy may be stolen.
To not run in the hallway.
Do your work.
Our teacher told us about the classroom rules.
That when she was talking not to talk, but to listen.  Also that we had to have inside vocies [sic].
No bulling [sic] no making fun.  Treat others the way you want to be treated.
How to treach [sic] others the way you […]
1One rule was always listen. 2Keep your hands to yourself.
No running, or yelling.
Do not run in the classroom or don’t talk when a person or the teacher is talking.
No running, talking out loud, raise your hand before you talk.
No fighting.  No running.  Listen.
The kind of rules my teacher told me are your avrenge [sic] school ruls [sic].
Some rules she told us were no bulling [sic], be fair, etc.
Do not ran [sic]: in the hallway.  Do not eat at school onle [sic] at lunch.
No biting.  No fighting.  No kicking.  No yelling.  Raise you hand to answer.
No talking.  Raise your hand.  No throwing pencil [sic] or erasers.
Don’t be bad.
No chewing gum.  No running.  No yelling.  No hats.  No cell phones.  No head phones.  No guns.  No knives
We have a rule list and some rules are no running, no vilens [sic], no tipping chairs, be nice to others and more.
Be respectful to other students.  Rais [sic] you hand to ask a question and don’t enteruped [sic]anyone talking.
No throwing.  Listen and don’t talk when teacher is.
Don’t run, don’t yell, & raise your hand.
Mostly basics + pet peaves [sic].
About participating.
Our teachers told us about how and what we do to get marks.
Lunch room rules, hallway rules, class rules.
She told us to not talk and we will be fine.
They said how they do things in their class and overall school rules.
The classroom rules.
About talking, assigned seats, and types of punishments.
They told us the rules abut cheating and explained the rules in the handbook.
They tell general rules that everyone has and then some that they are picky about, or have worse consequences for than other teachers do.
They told us that we had to carry a journal at all times.
What would happen if you got in trouble.
In Mrs. Rice’s class not to throw anything with air under it.
Just the regular ground rules on discipline and behavior.
Raise your hand.  Be respectful.  No “put downs.”
The basics
Just the basics – do what you’re told, keep quiet, do your homework.
They told us about the “panther” rules, agenda rules, and their own class rules.
The same rules as last year.
Everything thinkable!!!  Lockers, talking, loudness, agenda.
Where to sit, what I was supposed to do and to be silent.
What we needed… what things were expected of us.  Supplys [sic].  Papers signed…what you need to do and stuff.
Our teacher told us about the new agenda rules that were just added this year, and some other basic rules that we have heard since first grade.
Same rules they tell me is no cusing [sic] jump or talking in the hallway.
All the baby-ish rules likee [sic] the agenda sighning [sic], that don’t really effect us.  Then the basic rules like no talking, pass for bathroom ect. [sic]
They told us to be on time, to bring supplies, bring homework, do classwork, be respectful and be safe.
Well this year we had a whole new set of rules because of our princible [sic] and we had to go over all those but other than that not really anything new.
The basic rule, no horseplay, no gum, dress code, and how you can get suspinsoing[sic]/expelled.
The basic stuff like be respectful, responsible, safe do your homework, and don’t interrupt them.
PRIDE [this was the acronym for their school wide rules]
Not to leave the classroom without asking, not violate anyones [sic] privacy, or use fowl [sic] language.
Don’t chew gum.  Don’t talk back.  Respect each other.
They showed us the mark system that we are going to be using.

Question 7: Do you think there is any connection between how a teacher acts on the first day and how they act on all the other days? Yes or No?  Please explain.
Yes.  They seem nice all the time and they always seem to live up to any promises the [sic] say.  My homeroom teachers have always kept their promises and are as nice as they were on the first day of school.
Yes.  Because they always teach no mater what.  But she is still nice every day.
Yes.  Teachers are nice everyday.
Yes.  I think this because if they come to school happy then they might by happy for the rest of the week.
Yes.  I think yes because during [sic] the school year they get to know you better.
Yes.  Because they still act like a teacher they have to follow rules.
No.  One [sic] the first day they’re really nice, and then, they get mean.
Yes,  On the first day of school the teachers are nicer than on any other day exept [sic] a holoday [sic].
Yes.  My teacher let us go on some things on the first few day of school but when we got later in the school year she would’nt [sic] let us go.
Yes.  If the teacher is nice on the first day she will probably be nice the other days.  If she is mean then she will probobly [sic] be mean the other days.
No.  I don’t understand your question.
Yes.  Because if the teachers acted the same way on the first day and on the rest of the days it would be yes.
No.  Because they do not give us homework [sic] and they show us around on the first day and she gives us little work on the first.
Yes.  Teachers on one day they are nice and another day they are mean.
No.
Yes.  On the first day of school they’re nice but then they get a little bit meaner.
Yes.  I think this because the teacher might tell you the rules & if they do that they probably would want you to follow them.
Yes.  Well on the first day she was really nice and now she is more strickted [sic].
Yes.  She acts the same.
No.  After the first day the teachers may change.
No.
Yes.  Teachers will be all nice and happy the first 2-3 day then they are all mean and nasty.
Yes.  If the teachers are nice the first day they will be nice the rest of the year.
Yes.  On the first couple days they go pretty easy on you on the 2nd day they get a little meaner.  By the end of the year they’re a grouch.
No.  I picked no because there is no connection between how a teacher acts on the first day of school and how they act on the other days.
Yes.  I do believe so the teacher has to stay calm and cool throught [sic] the whole year.
Yes.  She is happy to see us and she is nice.
No.  My teacher has acted the same all year.
blank]
Yes.  Gets meaner.
Yes.  Yes because they get meaner later in the year.
No.  Because they give us disaplin [sic] like they do their children.  Also to me it seems they act the same they would at home.
Yes.  On the first day they want to be really nice but intill [sic] he/she gets to know the students they get frustrated.
Yes.  Because they get annoyed by some people.
No.  Well they get meaner a lot of the times.
Yes + no.  Because it all depends on who they are.
Yes.  Because they should continue to act nice.
Yes.  I think there is a connection how the teacher accts because their [sic] the same person.
Yes.  Because usally [sic] they are nicer and more cheerful, then they tend to become more grumpy or angry as the year goes on.
No.  They are nice the first couple but some of them get a little meaner.
Yes.  They will teach the same way.
No.  I don’t think so because if on the first day their [sic] happy, there [sic] not going to be happy all school year.
Yes.  I think that at first the teacher tries to make a good first impression then after awhile [sic] finds that its [sic] better to be a good teacher rather than a cool one.
No.  I think from the first day to the last day you because build a relationsh [sic] with a few of you teachers and some you r [sic] happy to get away from.  But not Mrs. Krauss.
Yes.  Mostly how the teacher acts on the first day is pretty similar.  Sometimes they’re a little nicer the first day.
Yes.  Well really I think it just depends.  But usally [sic] how teachers act on the first day is how they act on the other days.
Yes.  Teachers are nicer on the first day.
No.  On the first day of school they are nice then the rests of the year they are mean as anoy [sic].
Yes and no.  Some teachers may just try to get the kids on their good side.  They might be nice the first day, and then the rest of the year kind of like when you first meet someone and they act one way, and then you get to know them, you see them for who they are.  Just trying to make a good impression.  But its [sic] not like this for all teachers.  Some are open and honest from the beginning.
No.  At first they are very friendly but onle [sic] they start to get through the year they get grouchy and are easily angered.
No.  After awhile [sic] you get to know the teachers.
Yes.  I’ve never had a teacher be mean to start out with and nice later, or vice versa.
No.  Usually, on the first day, they make it seem like the WHOLE year is going to be all fun and games, and they’re in a good mood, but then, they’re strict, they never play games, and they’re not as nice as you thougt [sic] they were (some of them).
No.  Because the usually turn mean because they see our true sides.
Yes.  Because if a students feels a connection with a teacher the first day they are going to have that connection all year (I learn better this way). 
Yes.  If the teacher acts real mean I might hold a grudge on them all year.
Yes.  Like I know they change there [sic] moods.  But teachers that have pets treat others different.  But sometimes teachers are all kind to you on the first day and different all the other days.
yes or no not circled] I think that almost every teacher is totally different on the first day of school than they are on every other school day because they are trying to make a good impression on all his/her students.
Yes.  Because I treat then bad on the first day.
No.  Most teachers are nicer on the first day then drop everything the 2nd week.
Yes.  At first they may be excited and cheery but as the year wore on they might get meaner from having to deal with us all.
Yes.  Well on the first day they’re really nice and then as the year goes by they may change a little but not alot [sic].  But that’s just how Mrs. Krauss is[,] other teachers are different.
Yes.  Because if their [sic] nice they’ll most likely be nice the rest of the year, if they talk nonstop thats [sic] how they’ll be the rest of the year.  Teachers are pretty predicable [sic].
No.  They could be all happy one day and then come in all grumpy the next if they are having a bad day.
No.  Most teachers either act all nice on the first day and then turn mean or act all mean and then are really nice.  Some act mean and stay mean or some act nice and stay nice.
Yes.  Some teachers are nice on the first day, and put on a show so you go home and tell your parents you like them.  So when the teacher does act normal and mean, the parents will think that you must have done something to cause that.
Yes.
Yes.  You can get a basic idea of how nice/strict the teacher is going to be.  First impressions are a lot [sic].

 

Data Analysis – Qualitative Data

            Out of the 68 total respondents, 25 respondents hinted at or explicitly mentioned the student need for knowing about their teacher as a person in questionnaire responses and 31 respondents hinted at or explicitly mentioned the student need for being told what they will be doing and learning in class in questionnaire responses.

Conclusions from Quantitative Data

            Based on my qualitative data, the areas of greatest first-day need for middle grade students are the need for knowing their teacher as a person and for being told what they will be doing and learning in the class.  These needs directly link back with the initial research that Brooks completed and his recommendations for what teachers should do and talk about on the first day of school. 
Other, less significant trends include students advocating for “no homework” or at least “no homework on the first day.”  Many listed this as a response to question #1 (concerning what they want teachers to tell them on the first day), question #3 (concerning what teachers do to make you feel more comfortable and excited on the first day), listed giving or talking about homework as a response to question #4 (about what teachers do to make students anxious/nervous and not want to come to school), or suggested not giving homework as a response to question #5.
            Another surprising reoccurrence was the mentioning of candy.  Several students recommending giving out candy for their response to question #5 and others listed getting a candy from a teacher as the response to question #2 (describe a specific thing that a teacher did for you on the first day of school). 

Significance

            The results of this research study on student perceptions of the first day of school confirm the accuracy of Brooks’ findings in his original research (Brooks, 1985).  While many teachers read and praise this research in Harry Wong’s The First Days of School, students’ responses in the yes/no part of the questionnaire indicate that the theories are not necessarily always being translated into practice, especially in the areas of communicating evaluative practices and assessing preferred learning styles.  Written student responses reaffirm the dire importance of telling students about what they will be doing and learning in your class as well as presenting yourself as human on the first day of school.   The student needs that Brooks identified in his research on the first day of school still apply to today’s middle school students; teacher need to recognize this and complete the appropriate first day of school sequence of activities and topics to address the needs of their students. 
Suggestions for future research or repetition of this study include: greater sample sizes, simpler questions, and administering the questionnaire in class to ensure full participation of student body so research reflects the whole spectrum of students.

Work Cited:
Brooks, D. M. (1985). The first day of school. Educational Leadership, 42(8), 76.