Congratulations! If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably landed your first teaching job and signed a contract for a new position. Maybe you aren't just starting out but promised yourself you'd be better organized this school year. Sound familiar? There are so many things to think about like classroom theme (I'm loving the hip, cafe vibe these days), seating options, lesson plans, classroom systems, behavior management, and so much more. It's an exciting and overwhelming feeling for sure! The good news is you have time now to plan and get organized.
Get Ready - Take the First Week Challenge
I started the first week challenge to help new and beginning teachers get prepared for week one of school, so they would have time to focus on student-teacher relationships during the first term. Someone once told me that “preparation equals success”, and never is this truer than in teaching. You don't want to spend your energy running around making copies, trying to locate files, and organizing all your plans and paperwork during the first few weeks.
Here’s how it works:
You’ll need some supplies to get started. Most of the items can be found at Target, Amazon, dollar and craft stores, or your local office supply. Start by purchasing either a milk crate or plastic container. This is where you will keep everything you need for the first week. If you choose a crate, then also buy hanging files and file folders. If you go with the container, you’ll need expansion folders that are a bit like file folders but enclosed on the sides.
Next plan out your first week as best you can. Think about any handouts and paperwork needed. File those in appropriate folders and place in the crate. Remember that establishing relationships is one of the most important aspects related to student success, so be sure to add back-to-school activities that will promote social emotional learning and classroom community. It’s okay to spend several days on these. The positive impact it will have on your learning environment will be huge and time well spent!
Some of my favorites are Getting to Know Me cards and the All About Me Activities. They aren’t the usual color and write down your favorite things worksheets. Use resources that require students to reflect on personal information and get better insight into the kind of student and learner you'll be working with during the year.
Gather any support materials you'll need like picture books, magazines, construction paper, and other props. It's always a good idea to have a set of "throw down" handouts in the event of an emergency. These should be something students can complete with little to no instruction. Place all these in the back of the crate behind the hanging files or at the back of your containers.
And don’t forget about you! Purchase non-perishable snacks for yourself, peppermints, favorite pens and markers, sticky notes, and other personal items that will make your day easier. The last thing you'll do is add a few positive self-affirmation notes. Challenge yourself to finish the crate by the end of July or first of August. That’s it! You’re all set for a successful first week. Good luck during your the new school year, and thank you for choosing not only one of the most challenging, but important careers.
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