Teachers, do you know how to get ready for the new school year and then what to concentrate on that first week? Many teachers get stressed out just thinking about it, because it’s important to get started on the right foot.

Thinking about the beginning of each school year always gave me mixed emotions. I was excited to get going but had some butterflies and felt slightly stressed with the work to be done to get the year started off right. I always had trouble sleeping the night before starting school.

I usually went in to school towards the end of August, as many teachers do, to set up my classroom and get organized.

Each teacher has their own routine, some don’t set up their classroom until school begins, but whatever you do, you must know what you’re doing that first week of school because your students are evaluating you as you are evaluating them.

So here are some of my suggestions to get the year started off right.

1. Classroom Layout

A classroom that is comfortable, friendly and colorful creates a very positive learning and social environment for your students.

You can make your classroom a place where your students want to be with your classroom decorations, classroom displays and bulletin boards. Displaying a student’s work for others to see, is also a great way for you to build up their motivation and self esteem.

You can set up your student seating arrangements in different ways, although personally I organized the students desks in groups of 4-6. Eventually you have to socialize and work with all types of people later on in life, why not start now!!

Once your students are settled, allow them to take part in some of the decisions on the classroom layout, displays and seating arrangements, although you should keep in mind and they should know, that you have the final word.

2. Classroom Supplies

Each teacher will order their classroom supplies based on what they determine to be essential. Students and teachers will have different requirements based on the grade but here’s a list of the basics:

* Pencils and Pens (for the older grades)

* Ruler

* Eraser

* Notebooks (one for each subject, Math books should have graph type paper)

* Lined Paper

* Blank, 3 Hole Paper (different colours – used for science or social studies units)

* Labels

* Duotangs (many boxes of different colours)

* Markers (a large variety of different colours)

* Experienced Chart Paper (lined and graph)

* Metric/Yard Sticks

* Tissue Paper (a variety of colours)

* Blackboard Chalk (a large variety of different colours)

* Blackboard Erasers

* Construction Paper (all different colours)

* Powder Paint and Brushes (powder lasts longer than liquid)

* Paper Cutter

* Popsicle Sticks

* White Glue

* Scotch and Masking Tape

* Kleenex Tissues

3. Classroom Activities

At the start of each new school year, I set three goals for myself for that first week.

1. My main goal is for me to learn more about my students and for them to learn more about me and each other as well. I do this by using several different classroom games and activities. Here’s an example of one of the games that I use.

I call this game “My Favourite”. The objective was for teacher and students to learn everyone’s first name and get to know some things about about one another. Now here’s how it goes.

* To play the game you need a soccer or similar type of large ball.

* Everyone sat in a large circle.

* I would start with the ball and think of a favourite thing, for example “food”.

* I would say “My name is Mrs Krumholz and my favourite food is ice cream”.

* I would roll the ball to any student. The student getting the ball would say his/her name and his/her favourite food and roll the ball to another student.

* Get the idea? Any student getting the ball would have to roll it on to someone who hadn’t received the ball yet. Eventually everyone had a turn. The last person having a turn in a round, would start a new round and could choose a new “my favourite” topic.

2. Th next goal of mine was to get my students focused back on school work after a full summer of vacation. I started with a review of their previous year’s work. For example, I would have made up 15 math questions or give the students a spelling review  of previous year’s words, grammar sheets, etc.

3. My last objective for the first week was to set the classroom rules, explain the student agenda,  and make sure the students understood what was be expected of them for the year.

So a few final words – Be prepared, be organized, be yourself. But most of all be thankful that you have a job you love or really like and ENJOY!!

Honey Krumholz is a highly experienced school teacher. She is currently a college supervisor and mentor to student teachers. She provides seminars on her teaching strategies at York University in Toronto. Visit her website and get her teaching strategies on topics such as classroom management plans or more details on her 7 core teaching strategies

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