The first day back after summer break can be handled at the high school level with an individual/group activity that allows students and teachers to get into a comfortable place to learn by reflecting on their summer. If the teacher is new to the class it helps students relax more.
1.Distribute paper/pens/pencils and ask students to write a three paragraph summer reflection that answers the following questions....indicate you as the teacher will be doing the same.
a) Describe the best and worst things that happened to you over the summer...(students can elaborate as little or as much as they please)
b) Briefly describe your favorite subjects, hobbies, heros or heroines and give a few reasons as to what/why you enjoy these
c) Ask each student to write down what they are most looking forward to this school year and what they are least looking for ward to.
d) Have students conclude with a two to three sentence description on what they think constitues a great learning environment and why.
NOTE: Give students the option of drawing the above if they prefer. (They can explain the drwing later)
2. Ask students if they would like to share their Reflections in groups of four or in front of the class one by one. Indicate that you will go first.
This is a good way to start as it is lesson that can be ajusted to fit the time available which is not always easy to predict on the first day due to admin tasks...it can also be used as a carry over into the second day.
I always make presentations in front of the class optional and other students can simply hand in to the teacher if they like.