It’s that time of year again. August has arrived and with it the beginning of a new school year is approaching! Stores are bombarding their customers with Back to School sales. The ads suggest the items that are most necessary for parents to buy for their children. Teachers are spending countless hours preparing their rooms for their students. Putting up bulletin boards, laminating name tags, making copies, writing welcome letters, and the to do lists never seem to end. This is all a part of August for teachers. So where do you start? What helps you get ready?
I dread and love this time of year. I love office supplies, the smell of crayons, freshly sharpened pencils that haven’t been chewed on and still have their erasers, new packs of markers, and the list goes on. For the non teachers reading this you may think my love of office supplies is strange but I would guess that most teachers would be able to relate to my love of these things. In all seriousness though, I love this time of year because there is a certain excitement that comes with the thought of a fresh new start.
I love the hope a new school year brings. Most of all I love and look forward to implementing change as I reflect on the previous year. I aspire to try new ideas that will improve my teaching and effectiveness in the classroom.
I dread this time of year oddly because of the same things I love. The crayons, pencils, new books, and endless list of supplies needed for the classroom symbolize the tools of our job. It’s the tools that get the work done. The work that our students will be doing is a direct correlation of the assignments and lessons we’ll be teaching which require us to plan, create, and organize. This leads to an seemingly endless list of “Need to do’s”.
Managing the Back to School “To Do List”
So where do you begin? How do you manage it all? Here’s where I begin…over the last few years my colleague and I have created a list “Things to get ready for school” We save it into a shared folder we have in Dropbox and then from year to year we can revise the list as needed. If you’ve never heard of Dropbox or you’ve heard of it but have no idea how to use it I highly recommend it to teachers! However this is a topic for another blog post!
We break our list down into three areas: Back to School Night, getting the classroom ready, and our schedule for the first two days of school. This may not seem like rocket science but it helps to keep us focused! Your list will be different than mine but break the bigger tasks into smaller ones to make it more manageable. Check off the things you’ve accomplished as you go and when you get discouraged look back at all you’ve already completed!
Managing Back to School Night
I’ll share one of my favorite management ideas with you for Back to School Night. In our District we have Back to School Night (BTSN) two days before school starts so that’s why we have that listed as one of the three areas we focus on at the beginning of the year. I have found it valuable to have a BTSN folder for each student on their desks. Inside of the folder I include a document with all my important classroom information, a 3x5 card for parents to write their contact information on, a reader survey for the students to fill out, a classroom behavior contract for the parent and student to sign, and a volunteer schedule for parents to let me know their availability and interest in helping in our classroom throughout the year. I love having these folders. It helps me know who attended BTSN and who missed. It allows parents to quickly pick up the information if they have more than one child in our school. It also ensures that everyone gets the same information and I don’t forget something important. The students and parents who were unable to attend are then able to get the information on the first day of school and I don’t have to spend any extra time explaining everything they missed.
So as this new school year approaches I hope you’ll remember why you love what you do and that by sharing a few of my ideas you’ll be able to make some focused lists so you won’t dread the beginning and you’ll have an easier start to a fabulous year.