Sunday, July 16, 2017

5 Things to Do Before the First Day of School

So the countdown to the first day of school has begun for many teachers.  As more and more things are added to our long list of things to do, it is important to prioritize all the tasks at hand and go down the list one by one.  I am guilty of having a million imperative things to do and then finding myself in the corner of my classroom rearranging the pillows at the Library Center.  Yup, that's me! Guilty as charged.  :)

So to keep me focused, I have come up with 5 Things to Do Before the First Day of School so that everything will go as smoothly as possible, which of course does not include me remembering to grab my lunch from the kitchen counter before dashing out the door. :)

1. Have your plans and class schedule ready. Yes, it sounds counter-intuitive, but after spending hours getting your classroom ready and meeting your students at Meet-the-Teacher Night, you need to have your class schedule set and all the plans with any print-outs to go along with the first day and the first week of school ready on your desk. Display the classroom schedule on the board or somewhere students can easily find and follow along.  This is especially important toward the end of the day when it is dismissal.  Going over and practicing how students will be dismissed will definitely make your first day much smoother and less stressful.  Being organized and prepared will help set the stage for the rest of the year.

2. Designate different learning areas in your classroom.  Part of setting up your classroom is having different learning areas for students.  Do you have an area for reading, Word Work, writing, computer, math, STEM, etc.?  Are you doing Flexible Seating? What are the expectations for those areas?  The more defined the areas are, the more helpful it is for the flow of the classroom and for students to learn the expectations of how to work and learn in your classroom.

3. Establish a system on how to organize your classroom supplies and let your students know. Having a place where supplies are stored or a designated area for students to get and replenish their supplies later on will help with classroom management.  During the first week of school, I always go over where our classroom supplies are and the process of getting them.  For instance, construction paper is separated by color and is stacked on the open shelf in my classroom.  Also, there are two buckets for sharp and dull pencils by my pencil sharpener.  When students need to sharpen their pencils, they simply leave their pencils in the bucket and get a new one.

4. Have a behavior incentive system ready.  No matter if you are doing a clip chart or brag tags.  Having an incentive system so that students can be recognized for their good choices and be held accountable is imperative in a positive and productive classroom. In the past, I have done clip charts, tickets for Treasure Chest prizes, and punch cards.  They have all been effective and helpful in encouraging good choices.  Whatever you decide to use, make sure that you explain it thoroughly to your students and parents, be faithful to it, and have your prizes ready (little toys, coupons, etc.).  However, if you need to change it up in the middle of the year or so, do so!  You know what's best for your class.  Just make sure you go over with your students and their parents as well.

5.  Label individual student areas.  Have name tags ready for where students will place their own personal belongings.  Will they have their own cubby or hook to hang their jacket and backpack or assigned desk?  Young students like having their own personal spaces in the classroom.  It helps them keep track of their own belongings and feel belonged in the classroom.

It's hard to believe that with a blink of an eye, summer will be over soon.  But your new students have been waiting all summer to meet and get to know you!  They are so excited and know that it's going to be their BEST year with you as their teacher! :)

Below are some resources that are great for Back-to-School!

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