After 20+ first days of school between the two of us, we've gathered many essential tips for back to school! Whether you're a new or veteran teacher, we hope you'll find some tips here to help make this back to school season the best one yet!
- Make friends with the secretary and the janitor. They're the most powerful people in the school! You want them on your side, especially when you're getting your classroom set up. Trust me.
- Reduce how many bulletin boards or work displays you will need to regularly change. I like to use a big bulletin board or open wall for a permanent work display. Students can change out what they want to showcase in their space whenever they want. I found giant paperclips from Target so the kids can slide their work on and off as needed.
- Turn your students' desks backwards. You won't have to waste any class time cleaning out desks during the year, you'll lose less of your materials, and you eliminate the distraction of students playing around in their desks.
- Utilize packing tape when you're setting up your room. Tape your crayon boxes with packing tape so they stay intact. They may look beat up at the end of the year but they will still be functional! Stick packing tape over any labels you don't want to peel off (except on desktops- they leave a lot of residue).
- Make a master copy of your original copy pages on yellow paper. They'll copy just fine but won't get mixed up with your copies! (This is a game changer!)
- Decide in advance what you want to do for students' birthdays and prep all of them ahead for the entire year. Then store them in the order you'll need to use them.
- Print out a whole sheet of name labels for each student in your class. You'll have plenty of labels available to label supplies at the beginning of the year and you'll already have labels ready to go when you need them throughout the year (like when a substitute will be there).
- Organize your lesson read alouds. If you know you have certain read alouds you want to use for specific lessons (like you always use Lily's Purple Plastic Purse to teach character), pull those books from your regular library and store them in a specific place in the order you'll need them. You can put them back into the classroom library when you're finished if you want students to be able to read it. Whenever possible I like to have a copy specific for my teaching. Paperback books fit quite well in a file folder! Or I've had a personal book shelf dedicated to books for lessons (which the kids don't have access to).
- Spend the first few weeks of school focusing on procedures and routines. This will save you so much time in the long run. “Do it right or do it all year long!”
- Plan your morning routine especially meticulously. Build in some time in that morning routine where you can catch up on some housekeeping items. I use the time when my students are doing morning work to check homework folders (for notes from parents), submit the lunch count and attendance, etc.
And one last tip: Try to leave school each day with something you're excited to teach tomorrow. It will make the alarm going off tomorrow morning a little easier to handle!
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