Friday, July 28, 2017

Get Ready for Back to School in 5 Days Flat!

Hey girl hey!  Guess what time it is.........yep it's Back to School time!

I know, I know.....we have to face it.  We are about to turn that calendar page to August so we might as well start thinking about ways to get ourselves organized and ready! I like to think of myself as a fairly organized teacher.  I mean, my room is not Pinterest Perfection by any means but I'd say in the organization department, I get about an A-.  

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, I take photos of how I want the furniture placed and hang them on my board.  When the custodians are finished cleaning, they put all the furniture back just like the photos.  But, 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.  Some of last year's bulletin board were still up....I'm not sure yet how much I will change this year. I'm trying to get motivated to have a new theme!

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.  

Sometimes I like to make a diagram on paper before I start moving furniture.  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, etc

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 or with 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.  

I think its a good idea to cover you boards with fresh paper each year...maybe change up the theme with new border or a few items that I hang from the ceiling. Last year my theme was "First Grade is a Picnic".  I had a really cute watermelon umbrella that hung above my library, a cute little bulletin board in the back of the room and my big welcome back bulletin board in the hallway.  

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. 

One of the first things I always put up are my "Big, Big Goals", which are my "I Can" statements.  I like having my standards posted because it reminds me to talk about these goals every day with the students.  I will write more about how I use my Big Big Goals in a few weeks. Check back for that post! 

Day # 3  ~ Set up your centers

I LOVE centers.  I have always used centers in my classroom.  I think 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.  I have an entire post on how I use centers in my room that you can read about here. 

I like to have my centers set up right from the start because we begin using them on the first day of school.  My firsties are always anxious to try things out.  We 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, I slowly add more and more.  Usually by the end of the second week of school, all of our centers are 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 and Places". She is the guru of centers. You can take a look at her books here. 

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 (#seefirstparagraph) 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! I usually pull out my lesson plans from the year before as a reminder of things I did.  Then I tweak them with new ideas that I have found over the summer.  

Next week I will be writing specifics about planning for that first week.  Be sure to check back because I will gots more ideas on how to make that first week be smooth sailing!

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, 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.  

I usually have my Firsties play with tubs at the table while I show parents my powerpoint presentation.  There's so much important information to tell parents and this is the one time in the year when I have a captive audience.  I go over things like bus procedures, lunch, dress code, homework policies, etc.  It's about 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.  

I also give parents a packet of important forms to fill out.   I like to buy two pocket folders when they are on sale.  I put all the forms that parents need to fill out in the folder and I give it to them at our Meet The Teacher night. I usually encourage them to complete them at home and return them on the first day of school with their child.  

I created a BACK TO SCHOOL BUNDLE, in three different themes, with all the forms you need for the year. It is fully editable so you can put in your own information.  It might be something helpful to you in putting your open house evening together. The bundle includes: 

1. Meet the Teacher Letter
2. Birthday Calendar
3. Bus List
4. Parent Helper Lists and Room Helpers
5. Field Trip Sign Up Sheets
6. Party Helper Sign Up Sheets 
7. In a Million Word or Less Tell Me What I Will Love About Your Child
8. Emergency Contact Information
9. Class Roster
10. Parent Contact List
11. Passwords At A Glance List

The MATCHING POWERPOINT  has editable slides for the following topics:

1. Welcome Slide
2. Meet The Teacher
3. What's Our Daily Schedule?
4. How Do Students Get To School?
5. What Are The Classroom Rules?
6. Will My Child Need Supplies?
7. What About Breakfast and Lunch?
8. What Are The Special Classes?
9. Do You Have Snack During The Day?
10. What Will My Child Be Learning?
11. Will My Child Have Homework?
12. How Will I Know My Child's Grades?
13. How Will The Teacher Handle Discipline?
14. How Should My Child Dress For School?
15. Can Parents Volunteer?
16. Thanks For Visiting
17. 3 Blank Slides to Customize Yourself

These bundles comes in 3 different themes.    You can take a peek at all of them here: 

Well friend....that's all for today.  I hope some of these tips helped you in your back to school planning.  I know I'll be busy getting ready for Back to School soon and I'm sure you will too! Be sure to stop back next week.....I've got some great tips on how to have a successful first week of school!  See you soon, because you know.....there's always something fun happening in

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