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3 ways for teachers to prepare for the first day of school

MONDAY, JULY 20, 2015 15:12 PM

The first day of school is not only nerve-wracking for kids, but also for the teachers who are ready to test out new lesson plans and teaching methods. It seems like there are so many tasks to do before the first day that they can't all possibly get done on time, but with a few tips, teachers can greet kids on the first day feeling confident and prepared.

1. Get organized
Staying organized will help you prepare for the first day of school, and will also help you manage the rest of the year. As August approaches, one of the first items you should create is a checklist of tasks that need to be completed before classes start. Carrying a notebook or pad around is a good idea so you can jot down thoughts as they come and not have to worry about forgetting.

Along with creating the checklist, it is beneficial to either purchase a daily planner or to start using an online calendar. This can help you keep track of other tasks and events that are coming up, such as meetings and class events. Other than organizing upcoming events, planners can also serve purposes once the school year begins. Education World suggests that teachers note when certain issues occur and what action they took, such as when a parent called to complain or a child was injured. These references can be useful in the future if anyone has a question about an incident or wants to discuss it again. 

Be prepared for parents on the first day, as well, by organizing some pamphlets or packets for students to take home. It could be helpful to include information about the Common Core State Standards and what students are expected to learn during the academic year with your contact information available at the end. This way, parents are aware of expectations from the start and know how to get ahold of you if they have any questions or concerns that need to be addressed.

2. Decorate the space
You're going to be spending a lot of time each day in your classroom so make it feel comfortable. Add decorations and some of your favorite books, or posters and teaching sheets to turn the room into a pleasant learning space. Create specific areas in your room for certain activities, like a reading corner or a math board. This way, kids will begin to associate particular behaviors and expectations with those sections of the room.

Take the time before classes start to determine how the room can best be arranged, decor- and desk-wise. Spacing out desks is important so there is plenty of room to walk down each aisle. This way, students don't have to worry about bumping into chairs or tables and neither do you as you monitor student activity. Desk layout is easily forgotten in the rush to prepare for the first day, but it's crucial to class management. If you can't move easily between aisles, you might have troubles effectively controlling your class and keeping everyone's attention.

3. Construct a survival kit
There are going to be times during the school year when you get stressed out and have a bad day. Keeping a survival kit on hand can help make a lousy day a little better, though. A few items, as noted by Education World, to include in your kit are:

  • Change of clothes
  • Sewing kit
  • Bandages
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Sweater
  • Candy
  • Tea
  • Inspirational book

Another essential item is a short list of contacts or social media handles you can follow or look up that help make you feel better on stressful days. There are numerous teacher support groups you can join to get classroom ideas and gain inspiration for your work.

It's important to keep this tote in a nearby location out of the kids' way, so when you start to become irritated or flustered you can easily reach it. Having a de-stressing kit available can help you maintain a comfortable atmosphere for the kids.