I taught second grade for 7 years and this past year was my first year teaching first grade. I was a little nervous at first but I ended up loving this grade level! I'm excited for this upcoming year because I will actually know what to expect this time around :-)
My first tip is a super simple! Print up a lots of sticky labels with your students names already on them! Seriously, have a bunch ready to go with first names and last names. Coming down from second, I didn't realize some of my kids wouldn't know how to write their names. I was taken aback when I saw a kids that wrote their first initial instead of their whole name. Instead of stressing out those kids on the first days, I took some labels and had them attach one to their work. When there was time, I pulled those students aside and started working with them on how to properly write their names. These also came in handy when labeling their belongings.
Start sending home books right away along with some sight word cards. Huge milestones happen in first grade! Kids learn how to read in just a matter of months! I made the mistake of justing sending home decodable readers (kind of boring) and thinking that was enough. It's definitely not enough. If you have them leveled, send home books that are at that child's level. If you don't have them leveled, have the kids pick out a fun book that they can read with their parents. Parents will appreciate this and it will give your kids a chance to read something fun and engaging. You'd be surprised at how much harder they try to read actual books over decodable books.
Plan out class bathroom breaks. Our kindergarten wing has bathrooms inside the classroom. The kids were able to go to the bathroom at any time during the day without having to leave the building. Our first grade classrooms do not have a bathroom inside. Our kids have to go out of the building and through the playground in order to go to the bathroom. Instead of having kids leave the room over and over again, structure bathroom breaks throughout the day. I planned on two but ended up needed four breaks. It seemed that at about every 45 minutes-1hour the kids needed to go. This year I'm planning them into the day. By the end of the year we were down to 1-2 bathroom breaks in the day.