Preparing for the New School Year

R. Pierson

Although it seems like we just finished last school year, many of you will begin pre-service and planning for the 2018-19 school year in the upcoming weeks!

This time of year is always exciting – What classroom will I be in? What are my kids’ names? How will my room be decorated? With that being said, here are some great ways to get yourself prepared for the year to come.

1. Identify a theme, or determine how your classroom will be set up. Here are just a couple resources to help you get started.

  • Bored Teachers has some fun and easy to implement themes for your classroom, whether you teach kindergarten, or high school! If you’re a new teacher, or even a veteran teacher, there are a variety of ways to decorate and integrate a theme throughout your entire classroom.
  • Displays2Go has some tips for the most effective classroom seating arrangements based on the style of your classroom. The best part about your seating arrangement, is that it’s flexible. You are not stuck leaving your classroom one way throughout the school year. I encourage you to shake things up every so often, and give students some ownership in the classroom. This not only supports a positive culture, but increases student accountability within the classroom.

2. Determine what your classroom routines, procedures and expectations will be. This is one of the most important things you can do to have a successful school year! Start strong, finish strong.

  • After your classroom is set up (desks/tables are where you want them), identify where and how students will line up, how students will move to and from their seats and for what – sharpening pencils, throwing trash away, etc. Be prepared to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE this with your students. Assume they know nothing (in regard to your expectations), and be prepared to teach them how they will do things in your (their) classroom.
  • Angela Watson shares a free copy of chapter 9, from her book, The Cornerstone: Classroom Management That Makes Teaching More Effective, Efficient, and Enjoyable.
  • When it comes to your expectations (sometimes considered your rules), keep them short and sweet, student focused, and positively framed.
    • For example, “Keep your hands and body parts to yourself” is a much better message than, “Don’t touch others” that encourages desired behaviors.

3. Be prepared to build a classroom culture and community, and realize that it will take time throughout the year to revisit it.

  • Tribes Learning Community provides multiple community building activities for students of all ages. They are easy to implement, and help to build the culture of inclusiveness and support within your classroom.
    • One of my personal favorites that I used within my classroom was making a “Classroom Chain.” Every student received at least one strip of construction paper (I had multiple colors pre-cute so they could select what they wanted) and wrote their name and a fact about them – “I have 2 sisters,” or “My favorite animal is a dog.” After they finish writing on their strips, they find other students with similar information and staple their strips together. From there, each pair finds another pair, and so on, until the entire class has a giant chain connecting themselves together. Throughout, they may have to discuss other facts, not just what was written on their strip to begin with. I highly recommend that you include yourself on the activity and at the end, everyone is in your class.
  • Milken Educator Awards also has 10 Team-Building Activities for the First Week of School.

Whatever you decide, remember that every day is a new day, and before you know it, you will blink and it will be the last day of the year. Enjoy your year, and be sure to share your successes, while talking through your ruts. Teaching is one of the most rewarding professions out there, and we’re lucky enough to do it day in and day out!

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