Thursday, July 11, 2013

Back to School: Tips, Free Resources, and Activities

Summer is flying by and many of you will be heading back to your classrooms in late July and early August. Whether you are  a seasoned teacher, a brand new teacher or changing grade levels, getting ready for the first week of school can be very stressful. I know as I have moved so many times and started so many new teaching jobs and I always had those butterflies in my stomach wondering if the staff would be welcoming and whether I would fit in. Moving from one to state to another I never knew what the students would be like and of course there was always new textbooks and programs to learn. I thought I would put together some of my tips for the 1st week of school and some resources and activities to help you to build a sense of community while organizing and managing your classroom.

Tip #1: Decide what your vision is for your classroom. 
  • What do you want it to look like, sound like and feel like?
For me, I wanted my classroom to be like a family, where there was a lot of interaction and it felt warm-a feeling of belonging. Once you have a vision you can decide what you want it to look like. 

Tip #2: Make a plan for the first week of school. 
  • What will you do before school starts? Many teachers like to call their students' parents and introduce themselves or send a letter.
Tip #3: First impressions are critical so plan how you will greet your students (and  parents) and get the day started.
  • Be yourself! 
  • Make the day fun.
  • Spend time getting to know your students.
  • Spend time for your students to get to know each other.

Tip #4: Decide what your behavior expectations are and how to manage your students during  class time, moving to different activities, lining up, walking in the hall, bathroom, etc. 
  • Read alouds are fun for primary grades- I love David Goes to School  by David Shannon for establishing class rules. Let students be a part of the rule setting.
  • Chants and songs work well for changing activities for primary grades.
  • Choose a quiet signal- and teach it to your students.
  • Post the rules so they are visible for students.
Tip #5: Practice behavior expectations.
  • Practice walking in the hall, moving to centers or changing activities. If you don't get this under control during the first few weeks of school it will be a long, difficult year. This is critical in Title I schools or those that have students with lots of discipline issues.  
Tip #6: Be consistent with your behavior expectations and consequences.

Tip #7: Take a tour of the school and introduce key staff to your students such as the principal, secretary, nurse, cafeteria staff etc. Make sure your students know all the different areas of your classroom.  

I have put together a few websites with great tips that you also might want to check out. They have wonderful tips and great activities for the first day and week of school Just click on the  pictures below:                                          
  I also have 2 Activity Packets for the 1st weeks of school that you might want to check out. The 1st is for K-1 called "Hopping into School" It has 17 activities to help build your class community, a fun chant and poem. It has been revised and updated! You can see most of the activities (Sample pages) by downloading the Preview. Just click on the picture below.

 The 2nd one is for grades 2-4 called "Slide into School" It is also new and revised from last year so if you purchased it you can download this one. It also includes 17 activities to help build your class community including a fun activity called "Let's Have a Ball." You can see sample pages of all the activities by downloading the Preview file. Just click on the image below.

Of course I have 2 fun freebies for all my followers and viewers. Below are 2 original raps to use when you are setting up your class rules and behavior expectations. These are great for grades 2-5. I hope you will enjoy them. Just click on the image below.
For the K-1 teachers I have this "Getting Along at School" Poem and Writing Activities. Just click on the image below.
I have lots of new Pinterest boards for you to follow. Just click HERE.
Here are a few you may like. Would love to have you follow. Just click on the images below.

I hope your first day of school is everything you hoped for. Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students.

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  1. Great tips! Thanks for sharing, Arlene!

  2. Another great post! Thanks for sharing this information!

    Sally from Elementary Matters

  3. Wow...wish I had a highlighter to highlight your tip on consistency!!!! THANKS for sharing!
    Smiles and stop by anytime!

  4. I like your tip of letting the students have time to get to know each other! The first say of school is so exciting, but they really do just want to see their friends and meet the new faces. Thanks for the great list, Arlene!
    Teaching With Style

  5. I like your tips. I invite you to link up on my blog for Back to School Tip Tuesday. :)


  6. My plans for the first week are always more detailed than the rest of the year. I have to overcome everyone's inertia...even mine.
    Happy Friday,
    Artistry of Education