It's that time again, where teachers frantically try to remember how their room was set-up last year, what needs to be ready for meet your teacher night, and what in the world to teach the first week of school. Are you feeling that stress s...l...o...w...l...y creeping up? This post is going to help give you some ideas to get you back in the groove of school.
Getting Your Room Set-up
I always LOVED getting my room set-up for the new school year. I seem to always change the layout of my room each year, thinking of better ways to make it more spacious or "homey". Since the students are at school for so many hours, I think it is important to make the classroom inviting. I use polka dots with a pop of bright colors to decorate my classroom. If you check out my Classroom Ideas page, you'll see many ways to organize and set-up your classroom.
When thinking about the first few days of school, some of the things I find most important are classroom management and knowing the student's transportation for the day. I'm always so scared I'm going to lose a kid or send them home the wrong way (please tell me I'm not the only one). :) At our Meet Your Teacher Night, I make parents fill out the transportation sheet (provided by our school) right then and there. I want to know in advance how their child will go home the 1st day of school, and everyday after that. I use these forms to keep track of transportation.
I then use ribbon and clothespins to show where each student will go at the end of the day. I have this right by my door so I can see it before we leave for the day. If I get any changes in transportation, I move the student's clothespin AND attach the note to there clothespin. As you can see I put their bus # on the clothespin. It's so easy to quickly move a clothespin to the new dismissal for the day.
Classroom management can be the hardest thing to get perfected, but it is the most important part of a successful classroom. There are many classroom management techniques out there, so you'll have to find what works best for you. I have done the stoplight system, classroom economy, and clip chart. I personally like the clip chart because it is positive and I'm not spending money on prizes the students may only play with for an hour.
I created my clip chart in Word and uploaded it to Vistaprint (always looks for coupons with this site). I ordered the small banner and it has held up for over 4 years. I did try to laminate it this past year to see if it would make it sturdier, but it just peeled off. The way I use my clip chart is for students to start on green each day. They can move up or down depending on their choices. If they get on pink, they get to put a jewel on their clothespin. Yes, even the boys get excited for this! Once both sides of their clothespin is full, students can either take it home or put it on the "Clip Chart Hall of Fame" poster. This has worked great in my room. The whole class gets SO excited when someone gets on pink. My students are really good about not making fun of anyone that may be on a not so good color, but encourage them to make better choices so they can move back up. I love seeing them support each other!!!
At the end of the day I color every child's folder to let the parents know what color their child ended up on. The parents then sign off each night. Having this form is great to keep a record of a child's behavior or if you start to notice a change in behavior. I only write comments if their child went below green for any reason. You can find the clip chart above and these parent forms here.
Getting Ready for Meet Your Teacher/Open House
Now that you have your room ready to go, it's time to think about what all you want to tell parents about your rules, procedures, expectations, schedule, etc. I have created an editable packet to help you get ready for Back to School. This bundle has many forms, a class handbook, and a PowerPoint that can be used at your open house.
When parents walk into my room for Open House (Kindergarten does it before school starts), they find their child's seat and daily folder. In the picture below, you'll see my classroom handbook, hand print labels, and a money/notes label. These are all included in the Meet The Teacher bundle. My parents have commented on how much they love the money/notes pouch. They never have to worry about money or notes getting lost anymore. It is a bit pricey to buy a set of pencil pouches for an entire class each year, but I think it is well worth it!!
Depending on the time, they can start to look through the folder and fill out forms. I color code the forms that need to be returned to school. Doing this makes it much easier to sort the forms.
Once all the parents arrive, I go through a PowerPoint that shows our schedule, rules, attendance/dismissal procedures, etc. Having this PowerPoint helps me remember what I want to say and keeps me from rambling and getting scatter brained. :)
Another part of my open house, is to have parents sign up for their parent-teacher conference during my open house. I do this so that the parents have plenty of time to take off work. I have 3 dates for them to choose from & put all of them on one clipboard. I then have small reminder notes that they can fill out and take with them. We have students bring their own snack, but many of you have parents donate snack, so I created a snack-up form as well that I would put next to my conference sign-up.
Also included in the packet above is a field trip checklist, lunch count checklist, and 3 different dismissal forms (1st day, everyday dismissal, & emergency dismissal). All of these open in PowerPoint so you can type in your student's names.
Good luck with your school year! Thanks for reading my first blog post!!! :)