Teacher's Checklist for the First Day/ Week of School
10 Tips for Teachers for the First Week of School
Starting the new school year is a time that is both exciting and nerve-wracking. Although kids don't realize it, the first week of school is as thrilling and overwhelming for teachers as it is for students. In order to make sure that the first week goes smoothly and that the year gets off to a great start, teachers need to make sure that they are organized in approaching their classrooms. A teacher who is organized and who accomplishes some set goals in the first week of school will be in a better position to move through the rest of the year with ease.
Here are the top ten items that a teacher should check off of their personal To Do list during (or before) the first week of school:
1. Establish rules of conduct and introduce them to the class. No matter what grade you are teaching, you need to make sure that you have control over your classroom. The way to do that is to make sure that you have a clear idea of what behavior you except from the children that you are teaching. The first week - and especially the first day - will place a large emphasis on teaching the kids in your class about what your expectations are (and what the consequences for misbehavior will be).
2. Outline your overarching goals for each month. You may or may not sure these with the class but they will be useful in keeping you on track throughout the year. There will be so many things that you have to do in order to meet the requirements of your school's curriculum. However, you will feel better as a teacher if you also have goals of your own that you can check off each month. These may be theme topics that you want to address or interpersonal goals.
3. Get to know your students. Speaking of those interpersonal goals, an important thing to check off in the first week of school is that you have gotten to know one personal thing about each of your students. You should learn all of their names in the first week and try to remember one personal interest, hobby or strength that defines them. You are going to be a mentor in the months to come and your influence is going to be considerably stronger if you can relate to a personal aspect of each child in your class.
4. Organize and decorate your classroom. There are only a limited number of things that you can do to make a classroom your own but you should do as much as you can to personalize it. Rearrange the desks in a design that suits you. Hang some art or inspiring messages. Make sure that your desk is set up in a way that makes it easy and efficient for you to get work done. This room is going to be your home away from home and it needs to be a place where you feel your best. You may do this before school starts or involve the kids in some of the decision-making during the first week. It can even provide a short lesson on design!
5. Housekeeping. You need to make sure that you get all of those little housekeeping tasks taken care of that are part of being a teacher. Create an organized file on each of your kids. Make sure that you understand how hall passes and discipline reports work in your school. Know how to get in touch with each child's parents if need be. Figure out where your teacher's box is and what the teacher's lounge offers. Make sure that you have some first aid items in the classroom and know how to get kids to the nurse's office if there's a medical problem.
6. Send a letter home to parents. You should write a letter introducing yourself to the parents of your students. It should provide insight into what your plans are for the year, what your approach to teaching is and what you expect from parents in assisting with this. It should encourage them to call you for a five-minute get-to-know you discussion or should at least tell them how to get in touch with you if they have questions. Make sure kids are required to get this signed and returned so that parents have more reason to read it.
7. Network in the school. There are going to be days that are tough and they're made a lot easier when you have some friends on campus. Whether you are having issues with an administrative decision or just needing to vent about a problem in the classroom, a teacher friend can be a great resource. If you're new to a school, make an effort to befriend other teachers. If you've been at a school for awhile, consider reaching out to a newer teacher. You might be surprised how much you learn from each other throughout the rest of the year!
8. Encourage networking / socializing among your students. Each teacher has different ways of encouraging positive friendships within the classroom. Identify before school starts what your ways are going to be. Setting desks up in small groups, having daily classroom ice breakers, planning weekly group projects and other things like this can foster friendships in the classroom. Set up some lessons on respect and kindness that are age-appropriate for making sure that these experiences are positive.
9. Start assigning homework. Many teachers make the first week a little bit too easy which actually makes it harder for kids to get in the school groove. Don't make this error. Start making assignments, including homework assignments, on the very first day of school. This is also important in helping you to gain a good early assessment of where your students are at in their skills and what work you'll need to do with each of them to get them up to par.
10. Do something special on Friday. Fridays are a great day to offer rewards or downtime or an educational movie ... something that recognizes that you all got through the week. Start this by doing something special with your class on the first Friday of the year.
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