While we are still in the middle of July and summer vacation is still in full swing, the beginning of the school is definitely in the horizon from here! As much as I want to extend my summer vacation a little bit longer, I know that any time that I put in to prep my class for the back-to-school rush now, I will definitely be thankful later. Here are ways I prepare my classroom before the beginning of the year.
1. Decorate Your Classroom
May you move to a new classroom, just want to revamp your classroom's theme, or want to rearrange your word wall or student desks, do it now when you have time the energy and time. New decorations and borders are always coming out in the summer! While it's definitely hard on the wallet, and I try not to make it too over-stimulating to accommodate to my students' needs, I must admit that I am a fool for all things cutesy that make my classroom inviting and engaging for my students. Try also to follow teacher supplies stores online as they often have giveaways and promotions going on in the summer.
2. Get all the First-Week-of-School Essentials Ready
Name plates, dismissal tags, name tags, supplies organizers, communication folders, behavior calendar, sharpened pencils, and the list goes on...Whatever it is that you need that first week of school, go ahead and purchase them now. I usually get my roster the day of Meet-the-Teacher, however, I try to have all the materials on my desk ready to go when it's time. It saves me a lot of time and helps keep things organized.
3. Create a Plan on How To Organize School Supplies
My students begin bringing in items on Meet-the-Teacher Night. There are certain things that I like for my students to keep in their cubbies for personal use (scissors, pencil box, crayons, folders, notebooks, and markers), and there are other things that are for community use (construction paper, erasers, dry-erase markers, tissue boxes, glue bottles, glue sticks, etc.).
For items that are shared throughout the year, I leave bins out in the hallways with labels and instructions for parents and students to simply drop them off. As more things are collected, I then place enough shared supplies (glue bottles, scissors, and pencils) in little bins in the middle of student desks while others like tissue boxes, construction paper, and dry-erase markers are placed on shelves or in cabinets. Also, the first day of school is also a great time for students to work in small groups to separate construction paper by color. This activity allows students work together and take ownership of their own classroom. In addition, whenever you need a stack of a certain color construction paper, it is already separated and ready to use! :)
Below are the labels that I use for organization.
4. Reorganize Your Teacher Desk
I try every year to reorganize the supplies inside my teacher desk simply because I know once school begins, it is the last thing on my mind. And what's more frustrating than trying to find more staples or paper clips when it's the first week of school and you have about a million notes and forms to collect?! Buy cheap desk organizers to help compartmentalize different areas in your drawers for all your office supplies essentials. This has helped me keep organized, and a great way for me to know exactly where my things are when I need them.
5. Decide On Your Student Seating Arrangements
Some teachers on my team have decided to do away with individual desks and go with circle tables. I've decided to keep my student desks as I prefer my students having their own storage space and to eliminate time from getting supplies when needed. Once I have my student desks arranged, I make sure I place labels on their supply bins to show what group they are in (Group 1, 2, 3, & 4). This really helps when I call to pass out papers or line up. No matter what you decide, this is the time to decide if you want five students to a group, the use or desks or tables, or where all your different learning areas will be (Writing Center, Library, Word Work, etc.).