Back to School is the perfect time to reflect on and refine your classroom processes, procedures, and routines—you’ll be able to think more clearly when you’re not trying to squeeze in planning during your lunch period or early in the morning before students show up. Hit the ground running with these five tips and tricks to make a great start to the new school year.
1. Order Supplies Early
A well-stocked classroom takes time to build, and supplies will likely need to be purchased from several places. When deciding what you need, go through each subject in the curriculum. Make a list of items you’ve used in previous years with notes about what worked and what didn’t. Before placing any orders, find out what supplies your school will provide. If your school sends home a supply list with students, think about what items should be provided by families, what is reasonable to request, and how those items will be organized.
2. Organize Your Room
After you’ve received most of your supplies, it’s time to put together an engaging and welcoming room that will put students at ease and encourage learning. Decide where you want your learning centers, the class library, open areas for class discussions, and group and independent work stations. Then arrange student desks and your own personal area. Make sure you have an up-to-date class list the day before school starts with bus numbers and parent information.
3. Set Goals
Goals for the year should be set based on instructional needs, personal growth needs, and individual student needs. When setting goals, determine the desired outcome, the timeline for implementation, and how you will measure success. You’ll want to create a timeline for when certain parts of the curriculum have to be covered. Setting goals for individual students will likely come after you have had a chance to work with each one. As with most goals, you’ll need to be flexible and learn to adapt as you work through the school year to achieve them.
4. Establish Routines Right Away
Students crave and need set routines. Many schools already have general teaching schedules established that specify what time of the day subjects such as reading, writing and math will be taught. Put together a schedule that also includes when lunch, recess, and special area classes will be. Plan for and communicate any changes in schedules. You may want to set up a class webpage highlighting the schedule and class expectations. Be sure to include a spot on the webpage for information about homework.
5. Build Family Relationships
Getting to know families and developing positive relationships is crucial to provide the best education for each child. If possible, home visits should be scheduled over the summer before school starts. If this isn’t possible, make every effort to encourage families to attend back-to-school night or personally visit the school early in the year. Find ways to seek out information from families. What do they consider the student’s strength? What are their interests? How would they like to be involved in the education process? Not only can families provide a wealth of information about their child, but connecting with families also creates a support system that will help everyone get on the same page and encourage academic success throughout the school year.
Following these few tips will help you get prepared as quickly and efficiently as possible for the upcoming school year. It’s important to start planning and preparing as far ahead as possible so you won’t be trying to get everything accomplished in the last few weeks leading up to the first day.