Reconnect with School: Top 10 Prepping To Dos Before The Kids Come

1. Have a transition meeting with your students’ previous teachers

Meeting

How do you know where to seat your kids for the first day if you haven’t met them yet?  Talk to their teachers to get you up to speed on their personality, behavior, academics, family, health, etc. so that you can be prepared and know what to expect while you get to know each of them.

 

2. Copy and collate books
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My tradition is that my room parents from last school year help copy and collate the cursive books for next year’s class so they are ready to go.  I also have parents copy/collate my skip counting books (help with multiplication facts).  With all the prep you do for the new year, this is one less thing you have to worry about.  Those of you that don’t teach cursive probably have some other books you’d like to prep for the new year (ABC books, writing, science journals, etc.).  The possibilities are endless!

3. Label and number materials

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I give each student a student number from 1-22 and label their pencils, erasers, crayon boxes, journals, and books with them so it’s easier than writing out names.  I have a few class lists around the classroom that indicate student names/numbers for their reference should their classmate misplace their belongings.  Another tip: color code the sides of the consumable workbooks (use a thick marker to draw a line across) so students know exactly which book they are grabbing without having to take it out, ie- green for math, blue for language arts.  More time for learning and fun than fumbling through their desks!

4. Book field trips

Once you have your school calendar dates of events, activities, book those field trips before they’re all gone!

5. Update your back to school supplies list

Pencils

Maybe the one you used last year is out of date.  Update it to make sure students know what to buy for the school year.  I used to buy my students 2-pocket folders to organize work, but this year, i’m having them buy their own 3-ring binders.  See my previous post about my 3-ring binder journey.

 

6. Print out a calendar for each student

Calendar

Calendars help students know what’s coming, deadlines, events, etc.  Print out month-view calendars (one month per page).  Since I have a gmail account, I input these events on my Google calendar and as things come up, students are responsible for hand writing them on their own.  I will print out a set for each trimester so that the calendars are pretty complete.  These will go into their 3-ring binders, too!

 

7. Work Flow reorganization

Student Work

When do you return student work? How/when do you collect it?  Do students and their parents know when to expect graded work?  Do you grade all papers?  We know that it’s impossible to give every single assignment a grade, so decide which you’ll put into your gradebook (ie- summative, formative, unit assessments) and which you’ll check off for completion.  For me, I grade math and spelling tests.  There are some pieces of homework that we grade as a class and allow students to ask clarifying questions.  They score themselves and once they are in my hands, I check them.  Those that did pretty well get a check or a star and those that didn’t do too hot have to redo the work and return it back to me for a final check.  It’s all about learning from mistakes.

8. Create or update your blog or website

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I used to have a Google site, but now I have my own website- mrsjaravata.com!  Maybe some of your policies have changed from last year or you want to add a new welcome for parents?  Or, create one to open the communication lines between you and your students’ parents.  A blog can proactively help parents in getting to know your teaching style, keep updated on school events and assignments.   There are documents that can be printed to serve as a reminder or replacement for the soft copies.

9.  Think of new and fun activities for the first week!

If you’re bored of the same first week activities, then change it up!  Reflect on last year’s class- were they engaged?  Look up new getting to know you and team building activities.  We are a TRIBES school, so I scour through my handbook for ideas that I want to try as well as keep the classic ones (Name Wave, etc.)  Do whatever it takes to show your students what you’re about as a teacher!  Students need to know your expectations, your teaching style, your classroom management policy, etc.  Show, don’t tell!  Make it memorable- show a video, act it out with your students, and/or play a song!  Have them collaborate on a task, play games and/or show off their writing skills in a poem, letter or story.  Do you have an idea you’d like to share, please comment below!

10.  Classroom Reno?

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Not a complete renovation like those shows on HGTV, but a rearrangement.  Think about the traffic flow in your classroom.  Are supplies easily accessible for your students?  I can say no to that question.  For example, students’ dictionaries and thesauruses were on a shelf behind my big group work table.  Sometimes, when students are working at the big table or when I am with my guided reading group, students have to squish past the long desk to get those books.  This was very interruptive.  So, today when I was prepping my classroom, I moved them to a more accessible location!  Voila!  How about student desks?  Can every student see the board?  Is there enough room for students to work on the floor?  The classroom environment, or the third teacher, is one of the most important aspects of your students’ day.  You’ll find if your room is efficient, organized and clean, your students will be able to engage, learn and be more motivated to work hard and enjoy school!

Do you have any prepping to dos that help you get ready for the new year?

Please comment below!

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Sharon Jaravata

Sharon is a 3rd grade public school teacher.

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