Sunday, July 29, 2012

Preparing for School Linky

6th Grade All-Stars is hosting a linky about preparing for school.  What a great idea!  I will certainly be reading other teacher's thoughts.  Even though I've done it once before, as the getting ready for this new year draws nearer, I'm feeling less and less like I remember what to do.

Those preparing-for-school days were jam packed and rushed for me last year. I was unofficially hired 1 week before school started ("We wanted to let you know that you are our first choice to fill the position, but the teacher you will be replacing has not finished submitting her leave of absence paperwork yet, so we can't officially hire you"), officially hired the following day, got keys to my classroom 3 days before school started, had 2.5 days of staff meetings/trainings, leaving me with mostly just evenings to get ready.  Luckily, I had super helpful grade-level teammates!

And now this linky's questions:

- What grade do you teach? I teach 4th grade.

- What is the greatest advice you received during your 1st year of teaching? Ask questions!  Every teacher was a first year teacher at some point.  They understand what it's like.  So, don't be afraid to ask questions.  I found e-mailing non-urgent questions was best so that they could respond when they had time.  Ask about school policies and procedures, ask about ideas for teaching certain topics, ask about their pacing, ask how they keep organized, ask everything!  I found that it was especially important as the year came to an end to keep asking questions.  The other teachers had gotten so used to me being around that they didn't remember it was my first time doing the end of the year.

- Do you have a checklist that you follow when preparing your classroom (include the checklist)? I don't have a checklist.  Making one is on my to-do list.  With this comes another piece of advice for first year teachers: make sure to keep a copy for yourself of everything that others give you, from worksheets for students to lists of things to do, in an organized place that you will be able to find the following year.

- What are some must haves in your classroom that you cannot live without (ex. items, books, posters, management strategies)? An organized place for students to turn in papers.  I tried two systems this year and am trying a new one for this new year.  If the student papers are not organized, grading will take you so much longer.  On the flip side of this is having a good system to return papers. You also need a place to organize your papers, both things you are preparing for students and all the other paperwork.

- What is something that all teachers should have in their classroom? I think that all teachers should have a place in their classroom for each student to have a piece of work on the displayed (this may not work for those of you who teach middle school).  During the second half of the year, I made a place for each student on the wall.  Each Friday, I passed back their work.  They chose 1 pice of work that they were proud of to put in their spot and then took the rest home to show their parents.  Once I started doing that, so many students brought family and friends (yes, others their age) into the classroom after school to show them their work.  I think it made them really proud to have work that they decided was quality work up in the classroom.  Bonus:  Putting these together at the end of the year made a great portfolio for the students!


One week until I get my classroom keys ... it's time to really get all those summer projects done!

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