Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Preparing For School

Since I finally figured out how this whole Linky Party works, I decided to link up with Mrs. Crouse at 6th Grade All-Stars. I am actually excited about this years back to school, though as I think I have said before my friends all think I am crazy. One of the things that I have always been interested in was finding ways to support new teachers, and this topic sounded like a good opportunity to reflect on what it is that I do all the time, and also ways that I have changed that back to school practice. - What grade do you teach? I teach fourth grade. I have taught 4th grade for 4 out of 5 years. One year I looped with my class up to 5th. One positive of upper elementary is that the beginning of the year can be very smooth as the students already know the basic expectations of a student. Unlike the earlier grades where they are still learning so much of what is expected of them. - What is the greatest advice you received during your 1st year of teaching? I don't remember the greatest advice that I received, but there are a couple of things that I would tell a new teacher to help guide their beginning. 1. Spend the time up front to really teach and practice and discuss any behavior that they are going to need in your room. From how to sharpen a pencil, to turning in homework. It may seem silly, and like you have too much curriculum to teach to spend that much time of behaviors but I gaurantee that the time will be well spent and learning much smoother throughout the year. 2. Classroom setup sets the tone for how your room will run. If you want the students to be really organized, we have to model that from the start. The more systems you can have in place the better. 3. There is always something else that can be done. Set a time limit, and leave when you reach that time. I always liked to set one afternoon that I could stay later, but you will be no good to your students if you get burned out because you have no life. - Do you have a checklist that you follow when preparing your classroom (include the checklist)? I wish that I was that organized.... I have multiple checklists. This year, I am moving schools and have a new room. So here is my basic plan: 1. Go through drawers and cabinets and get rid of stuff that I will not need in my room. 2. Clean. Thouroughly clean cabinet doors, shelves, counters, find a way to get the dried up sticker off of the window..... Make it fresh before putting my stuff away. 3. Organize my boxes by type of items (Luckily I was smart enough to label about 80% of the boxes, and I actually did this today when I was stuck between 1 and 2 while I waited for the stuff that needs to go away to leave. 4. Sticky notes! Label each cabinet and drawer with what you think you want to go in there. Leave and come back later. Think about it again before starting to unpack. 5. Unpack 6, Decorate!!! Actually I am working on this step all along since my best friend and I just got a Cricut. Seriously.. well worth the price. Everyone should have one. 7. Once the desks are in order and supplies are organized I will label everything. I am lucky at my school that we (the teachers) get the supplies and the parents bring in a donation. This means that I can have everything labeled exactly as I want it before school starts. 8. Get ready for open house. Find forms print them, put them places. Make my wish list. This year they will be on cut out fish. My "Wish Fish" will match my underwater theme. For some of the weird items I am putting on it I will print pictures. Try to have items that range in price. Anything that you think sounds too expensive you can list as a dream item. (ie: a Cricut machine. You never know who has one that they never use, or just updated to the new one but has the old one. Or who has the ability to get one for you somehow.) - What are some must haves in your classroom that you cannot live without (ex. items, books, posters, management strategies)? I cannot live without my Daily 5 organization stuff, My color chart for behavior, and my student library organized in book tubs. - What is something that all teachers should have in their classroom? A really good hole punch, a paper cutter if you can get your hands on a 12 x 12 one, a comfortable teacher chair at your small group table, and a Cricut. Well, maybe not a Cricut but it is pretty spectacular! :) Head over to {6th Grade} All-Stars to see how other people start their year! Good luck, and I will continue to post my journey from a room of chaos to what I hope will be the most fantastic 4th grade room ever. :)

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