Sunday, August 26, 2018

Classroom Set Up in 5 Days Flat!

Back to school is here and it's time to get your classroom set up and ready to go for the year.  Are you dreading spending the last of your summer in a hot classroom arranging furniture and putting up bulletin boards? Here's how you can get your classroom ready in no time flat! 

I know, I know.....we have to face it.  We are about to turn that calendar page to September so we might as well start thinking about ways to get ourselves organized and ready.  So, what's the first thing you should do before walking into your classroom to get ready for a new school year? 

Day #1 ~ Get a tall glass of your beverage of choice! 

Seriously...I fill my YETI to the  brim with an ice cold tea because I know once I get in that room, I will be there for hours.

And ~ Arrange your  furniture 

Now I'm pretty lucky because our custodians are ROCKSTARS and they basically put all of my furniture back in my room just the way I want it.  At the end of each school year, take photos of how you want the furniture placed and hang them on your board. When the custodians are finished cleaning, they can put all the furniture back just like the photos. This will save you a ton of time when you come in to set up your room. 

Now, sometimes I make changes in my head over the summer (shocker!) and so I rearrange a little.  Here's a few photos of my classroom BEFORE pics.  

If you aren't quite as lucky with rock star custodians, enlist the help of a friend or one of your kids (gotta love being a teacher's kid!) and have them help you on this first day if possible.  The last thing you want to do is drag your furniture across freshly waxed floors and mess them up!  If you can't find help, another way to move your furniture without ruining your floors is to put little squares of carpet or towel under the legs so you can drag stuff and it will slide.  

Before you start moving furniture, make a diagram on paper.  Find a place for your guided reading's probably going to stay there all year so you better like it! How about your desk? Do you have centers? Where will they go? Figure out where you want everything.....BEFORE, you start moving it around.

Day # 2 ~ Decorate your bulletin boards

When I say "decorate" I use that term loosely.  I'm a huge believer that your classroom should reflect the students and that most of the "stuff" you put on your walls should be made by the kids.  I often start out with empty bulletin boards and I'm just fine with that.  They quickly become filled with anchor charts that I make with the students and other work by my firsties.  

One of the things you can do to save time is cover your bulletin boards with new paper and border - at the end of the school year.  This will save you  so much time when you come back at the end of the summer to set up your room. Cover the new bulletin boards with black paper or newspaper so it doesn't fade.  When you come back to school, all you have to do is uncover the boards and they are ready to decorate!

Plan out your bulletin boards just like you plan out furniture placement.  Think about where you want to post your "I Can" statements.  Do you have a classroom management routine? Where do you want to hang that?  Where will you hang your anchor charts?  How about a calendar? 

All of these things will need a "home" for the year.  Some boards will stay the same all year ~ while others will change with the months or seasons. 

Day # 3  ~ Set up your centers

I love centers and have always used them in my classroom.  Students need to have a chance to move around the room, try new activities and work with friends.  Centers give them the opportunity to do that every day.  Read more about how I use centers in my room here. 

A good idea is to have your centers set up right from the start so you can begin using them on the first day of school.  My firsties are always anxious to try things out.  Start off slowly with only a couple of centers open at first and as they are introduced to the rules and get a chance to practice, slowly add more and more.  Usually by the end of the second week of school, centers should be open for business. 

Think about your centers ~ will you have your centers at different places and tables around your classroom?  Do you have space for that?  If not, maybe your centers will be in tubs that you place on a shelf.  How will you manage your centers? One of my FAVORITE  books to help you with centers is by Debbie Diller called Spaces & Places. This book will give you loads of ideas for setting up  your centers. 

Day # 4 ~  Plan for the first week of school

I am a planner.  I NEED to have my lesson plans prepared and my materials ready.  I am not really a "fly by the seat of your pants" kind of girl.  Now, that's not to say that I haven't been known to scrap everything and go with the "teachable moment".  But basically, I like to be organized and prepared,  especially the first week of school.  

The last thing any of us needs is a classroom full of chaos because you didn't think to run off that paper or you forgot to get a book from the library! Pull out your lesson plans from the year before as a reminder of things you did.  Tweak them with new ideas that you have found over the summer, prepare any materials that you need and you will be ready for that first week with your kiddos!

Day # 5 ~  Prep for your Open House / Meet The Teacher

Do you have an Open House or Meet the Teacher night before school begins? It's a great time to meet your littles before that first day of school and hopefully put any fears they may have at ease.  It's also the perfect time to collect supplies and talk to parents about important information that they will need during the school year.  

Have a plan of how you want your open house to go ~ will you have a scavenger hunt?  Will you show a powerpoint? What will the kids be doing to keep themselves dough, a coloring sheet, math tubs?  The last thing you want is kids running around all over the room.  Remember, the parents will take your lead.  So have a plan in place, of how you want your evening to run, so everything goes smoothly.  

Your open house or meet the teacher night is a great time to go over important information with parents. Put together a packet of all the important forms that you will need from parents and show a powerpoint to parents while kids play with something quietly at their seats.  There's so much important information to tell parents and this is the one time in the year when you have a captive audience.  Go over things like bus procedures, lunch, dress code, homework policies, etc.  You can pack a lot into a 15 minute presentation and it gives the parents all the information they need to help their child have a successful year in first grade.  

Do you need a template for your powerpoint and important forms? Hop on over to the Back To School section of my store to check out these fun themes that include an editable powerpoint, meet the teacher letter and forms.