It’s that time of year again, time to pack away the camping gear and beachwear, and set an alarm; school is back!
The start of the year is a flurry of both excitement and nerves. Every teacher knows the importance of that first few days to build student relationships and set classroom expectations. Here are some top tips to help you get ready for the first day of school, and make settling back into your work routine a breeze!
1. Start with a to-do list!
After a holiday break, it can be tricky to get into the swing of a routine or even remember all the different jobs that need to be done. Start by simply writing down everything you need sorted for your first day of school. By creating a back-to-school checklist, you’ll feel in control and able to prioritize much more efficiently. Include it all; from getting school supplies and starting lesson plans, to setting up classroom displays.
2. Sort your new classroom environment
Out with the old and in with the new! Start by recycling or throwing out any material you don’t need from the previous school year. This also lets you see pretty quickly what you still need to source for the year ahead. Go through and sort your stationery supplies; think about your seating arrangement; and make space for new classroom displays.
Tip: Leave a blank space for an interactive icebreaker activity. For example, you could assign every student a “brick” to write something about themselves, like their favorite sports, music, or foods, and then display these as your “class wall”.
This allows you to get to know your learners, but more importantly, they get to know one another and see themselves reflected in your class. This is also the time of year to start setting some good routines in your classroom. Get yourself some trays for handouts, tubs for workbooks, and get your classroom expectations up on the wall. This will mean you can introduce classroom procedures easily and consistently from the beginning of the year. You could also use this time to make things like name tags for day one, or create name tag templates for students to decorate and display on their desks.
Tip: Get students to add images to their name tags to personalize them, helping you learn about them too.
3. Get to know your students
It’s vital that teachers begin getting to know who’s going to be in their class before they meet them. Start by going through class lists and learning requirements. This will help inform you what type of seating chart or classroom setup you might need, as well as how you want to set up separate in-class learning centers. Going through class lists early will also help to inform what outside support or professional development you need to access – whether this is for a learning need or health issue. This is also a good chance to learn how to correctly pronounce each student’s name before meeting them!
4. Get planning and prepping
Write and print things like your welcome letter or email, plan some icebreaker activities, and set up your parent contact information – including key learning and health details on students in an easy-to-access spreadsheet. From here, set up your planner with key dates, ensure the first units are ready, and print any worksheets or handouts you need for the first few weeks. Firstly, this gets you ahead of the game (and stay ahead!). If you’re a new teacher to a school, or in your first year of teaching, make sure you run this planning past your mentor or line manager to make sure you have everything. Being as prepared as you are, can refer to your initial back-to-school checklist to see if there’s anything you have missed.
5. Remember you’re still on holiday … have a break!
Always give yourself a couple of days’ rest before the school year truly begins. Once you have your classroom set up and have gone over student lists, go back into holiday mode to help recharge and ensure you’re good to go! This is important; it’s your time and you don’t want to burn out before students are even in your classroom! Prioritize doing things you enjoy and get outside to make the most of the final days of summer. The night before going back, get your clothes out, sort your lunch for the next day, have a nice dinner with a movie or good book, and most importantly, get an early night’s sleep! So when school starts, you’ll feel ready and rested.
Good luck with your new school year, Kami-ly!
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