Monday, July 30, 2012

Top 10 Things to Have Ready for the First Day of School

It is the end of July, which means August and school are fast approaching. I know for newer teachers this is a crazy time making sure everything is ready for that first day or even week. But, with so much to do how to determine what is the MOST important in terms of planning for the next few weeks. Well, here is my Top 10 list of things that in my opinion must be ready to go day 1!

*This is in my own order of importance going from least to greatest... and this is in no way a scientific thing =)

10) What you are going to wear- I know this sounds very elementary school but I promise this will set the tone. If you come into school looking professional and ready for business the students will see you as professional and ready for business. I probably go two full weeks before I ditch the heels but by that time the initial impression has been received. "I am a professional. I know what I'm doing. And we will work!"

9) Desk placement- Are the students going to sitting in rows? Are they going to be in groups? This is your personal preference and how comfortable you are in your management of the classroom and age group. I personal have them all facing forward with as little group contact the first week or two. That's something they have to earn. For more on desk placement planning check out my blog article on "Classroom Mapping".

8) Student Materials- I have an ongoing interactive notebook that we work through as a class. In working in this notebook, the students have to have quick access to all sorts of crafty things; glue, scissors, colored pencils, markers, etc. It is good to know going into the year where this things are going to be stored and how the students are going to access them in the least amount of academic time wasted.

7) Safety Plans- A tornado drill, a fire alarm, an intruder. All of these things have happened in schools or we would practice them. Be familiar with these drills and procedures before day one.

6) Teacher Area- It is your world after all. Before day one you should have your little corner of the world mapped out and set up. You most definitely need a place to file away papers, place to keep curriculum, helpful teacher books, a computer, printer, pencils, pens, sticky notes, etc. etc.

5) A Reward System- As important as it is to know your rules and consequences, it is equally as important to have a plan to focus on your "all-stars". So often teachers spend so much time focusing on how students are acting incorrectly and therefor spending most of their day pulling out their hair dealing with consequences. From day one, know how you are going to reward the good ones. I use carnival tickets and give them out like crazy starting on the first day. "Oh, you came in and went directly to your assigned seat, AWESOME! Here's a ticket." "Oh, you followed the procedure for sharpening your pencil, SWEET! Here's a ticket." Students save up the tickets and can buy things later like a bathroom pass, or a few second to leave early from class, or a positive phone call home. Kids love it!

4) Rules and Consequences- You need to have them posted (BOTH OF THEM) before that first bell rings. Students need to know what to expect from day one or they will dominate you.

3) The Very First Assignment- What are the students going to be doing while you welcoming everyone into the room? Are they filling out a student survey? Are they writing their information down on a card? I have a really good friend who told me she makes that first day's assignment as strenuous as possible and grades it hard. The students need to be aware on day one they cannot opt out of working in class. Even if you don't want to go that hard core, you definitely need something so they are working while you are tending to other tasks. Or maybe something so you can start building relationships. It all depends on you.

2) A Few Procedures Written Out and Ready to Practice- You don't want to bombard them with every procedure they are ever going to need on day one, but you do need to start teaching a few. On the first day, I teach how to enter the room, what the beginning of class looks like, coming in tardy, and how to leave the room. And I actually teach it, and we actually practice. When I went through my teacher certification program they told us to treat teaching procedures like you teach a lesson. There is an "I Do" where I tell the kids, There is a "We Do" where we all practice together. There is a "You Do" where I watch the students practice and practice and practice until it is perfect.

And Drummmmmrolllllll:
1) Seating Chart Day 1- This does not have the be the seating chart forever and ever but you do have to have a way to get kids from your door to their own seat without making them feel like you are unorganized, uncaring person. I have heard of and seen many different ways to do this. What I and one of my good friends do is go buy two packs of playing cards. Tape one deck to the desk and hand out the other deck to the students as they walk in. This is awesome in a couple ways; The students know exactly where to go (I used UNO cards my first year and the kids thought the 6s looked like 9s. It was a mess), you get to greet each student at the door while monitoring student behavior, you get to see the students interact with each other which will be helpful knowledge later. =)

Hope this helps and I hope everyone is getting excited for the start of school... I know I'm starting to get bored!

"Readiness is the primary determinant of teacher effectiveness"- Harry Wong

Mrs. Callahan

P.S. I'm going classroom shopping later this week, get ready for some room set up pictures!!

No comments:

Post a Comment