The first month of a new school year is the most tiring for any teacher. We spend so much time and energy getting our classrooms up and running and training our students that we sometimes forget that it does get easier. In this post, I’ll share six things to do the first month of school that will set you up for a successful school year. These six important first month of school classroom management tasks will save you time (and sanity) all year long.
First Month of School Classroom Management Must-Do’s
Without fail, teach routines and procedures.
Again and again and again until it’s right. Teach your routines for the entire first quarter if you need to.
Create a routine and a procedure for everything. If managing something is a struggle come up with a new procedure to make it work. And if that doesn’t work, scrap that idea and try something else. You can always change the routines that aren’t working and create new ones as the need arises.
Take one thing at a time, teach it to your kids, and practice it until the cows come home. Enforce it, stick to it, and be consistent. You will be amazed at how well your classroom an run once you create the right routines and consistently require students to use them. Create a routines and procedures PowerPoint to introduce how things are done in your classroom. Use the PowerPoint whenever students need a review and especially after every break. Read more about routines and procedures to teach the first day of school. about 10 routines and procedures to teach at the beginning of the year.
Click here for a back to school routines and procedures PowerPoint template.
Get your housekeeping done.
These housekeeping tasks are easy to put off but doing them at the beginning of the year will save you time in the end.
- Put together a group parent email list. Add it to your email contacts.
- Write your emergency sub plans. Create generic plans that a substitute can follow at a moment’s notice.
- Type up your daily/weekly schedule. You’ll be amazed at how many times you’ll need a copy of your schedule.
- Create a class split list. I make several copies of this and hang it on a clipboard next to my desk. You never know when you will have to split your class due to an emergency, or a shortage of subs, and it’s handy to have your list ready to go.
- Make a file folder for every student. Keep any important paperwork, parent contacts, work samples etc. handy for when you may need them for meetings, phone calls and IEPs
- Get ahead on copies. If you haven’t already, copy all the things you use daily or weekly and pull from them each week. Copy and store a quarter’s worth of spelling lists, fluency passages, math homework etc.
- Prep a bag with the basics for any new students. I prep 5 or 6 Ziplocs with a blank name tag, parent forms from Meet the Teacher Night, journal labels, data folder pages. Keep extras of anything else you will need for a new student so that you can quickly pull it out rather than hunting down all of the items.
Get your classroom organized, even if it takes you all year.
Divide your areas of need into sections. Planning, teacher desk, reading table, files, centers, and small groups. Take one thing at a time starting with whatever area is command central in your classroom. Create a place for everything so you can find what you need when you need it. Use bins, binders, file folders, stacking trays or drawers. Whatever works for you and your space.
Organize your centers and leveled readers in a way that works for you whether it be by skill, week, or level. Set up binders to organize your data, assessments, fluency, and running records. Make one for small group plans and resources as well.
It may take you a day, a week or a month to complete one thing at a time in each area and that’s OK. Organize one thing at a time. Even if it takes you all year.
Read more and get some great tips for classroom organization here.
During your planning time, PLAN.
The best way I’ve found to make the most of my time is to batch plan. By that I mean take one subject at a time and plan it out for 3 or 4 weeks. If that feels too ambitious, just do two weeks ahead. Prep, pull and make copies (or ask a volunteer to) of anything you need for those lessons. Of course things can always change, but at least you are ready in case it doesn’t.
I use a crate with hanging file folders for each day of the week. I keep 3 weeks of file folders hanging in the crate and place copies, homework, spelling lists, read-alouds and anything else I need to teach that day in the file. To see how I manage my crate, read this blog post.
Resist the urge to chat with your bestie next door, go looking for donuts in the lounge, or to check your social media. Not using this time wisely is the downfall of many a teacher, myself included, until I finally got smart. Make a list of things each morning you want to get done during your planning time and do them.
See the humor.
Humor is vital to the sanity of any teacher. Kids are funny, messy, frustrating, and precious. See the humor, find the funny, and embrace the hilarity that happens daily in your classroom.
Laughing together strengthens the bonds we have with our kids. It strengthens the relationships we have with our teammates and colleagues too. Plus, it just plain makes you a happier person. So many things are beyond our control when working with children that we can’t take life or ourselves too seriously. Look for the humor. It’s where you will find your joy.
Take a do-over.
For every lesson that looks good on paper or sounds good in your head but is a flop when you teach it, remember that you are the captain of this ship. If you need to back it up and reteach a lesson, do it. It takes a lot to keep the ship afloat and not every day or every lesson is smooth sailing.
There is no such thing as the perfect teacher or the perfect lesson. So be kind to yourself.
Be reflective. Be open to change. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Most of all, and this is important, enjoy your kids and do what’s best for them.
And remember, you have 180 days for a do-over. Take as many as you need.
These first month of school management tips will save you time in the long run and ensure that you have a successful new school year. Help another teacher by sharing this post on Facebook and Pinterest!
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