On the first day of school your priority should be to learn the name of each student. In order to have the time to do this you need to organize the agenda for the day so this can happen.
Here is my agenda for the first day. I provide students with a copy of the class policies and give them an "open notebook" quiz on the policies. Students work alone for 10 minutes, then are allowed to work with their neighbors. At this point, I find even the most reluctant learner is willing to discuss the class policies. The last question on the quiz is an essay question asking students to choose a policy and explain whether they agree or disagree with the policy. While all of this is happening I work on learning names by using a class list and the names at the top of the quizzes. Before the class ends I make eye contact with each student as I practice their name.
Let's review. At the end of the first day of school, I have learned all of my students' names, they have demonstrated an understanding of the class policies, they have earned an "A" in the class and I have a writing sample for each student. Not bad for 35 minutes. Note: At my school we use a rotating block schedule with four classes meeting each day. On the first day of school, we use a modified schedule so we see all of our classes.
What do you do to get the most of out of the first day of school?