Get ready to start the school year like a boss! This isn’t your post about how to make your bulletin boards super cute or where to hang that chevron bunting, I am getting down to the nuts and bolts of teaching that I feel set the tone for the entire year. Here are some tips, strategies, and resources that work for me year after year and have made me a better teacher.
1. Anchor Charts – I can’t begin to tell you enough how much anchor charts help me establish routines and procedures year after year. I have one for almost everything! Here is a list of anchor charts I love.
a. Morning Procedures – On the first day, I bring this outside with me right after the bell rings. I greet my students and parents and then get right down to it. Every day I start with “good morning boys and girls!” they respond “Good morning, Mrs. Casady!” This next part is done with a lot of choral response and using actions. I let them know these are our morning procedures and have them say back to me “morning procedures!” I point to the top of the chart and show rule #1. Teacher: “Rule #1” (students respond) and go into the rules on the chart one by one. After you have gone through each step. They are to walk inside and sit on the carpet. (obviously the first week or two it may look different as students don’t remember where they sit, or where to find their cubby, etc.) I seriously use the anchor chart for at least the first few months of school. Then I ditch it (but still hang it up on the wall for them to see!) and we still say it EVERY DAY but from memory. It really sets the tone for entering the classroom in an orderly manner. I can NOT stand when they come in crazy!
b. Carpet Procedures – I love this chart because I can keep this up on my white board all year long. It’s a nice quick reminder for those who need that visual. The first week of school is a lot of modeling on how this is supposed to look. I make sure to give out points to students who are doing it right. It’s all about catching them in the act and pointing out the positive behavior. I have this free in my store. Click here to download!
c. Small Group Procedures – This is also very important when they come sit at my horseshoe table. Once we get into a routine with small groups, every second counts, and you don’t want to be wasting time correcting behavior problems. I always staple this to my wall next to my table so they can see it. We go over these rules in a small group setting only. Again I point out the positive behavior and compliment them!
d. Line Procedures – Walking in an orderly line is something I take seriously. This is our time to shine walking around the school and show other classes and teachers that we know how to behave. I post this anchor chart by the door. We use these 3 steps the ENTIRE YEAR. Each step goes with actions. When they are to check their hands they pump them at their sides and put them behind their backs. When they check their feet they quietly stomp their feet two times and make sure they are facing forward. When they check their mouths, they make sure to put a bubble in their mouth to ensure no talking. We can be leaving a loud assembly and I’ll shout out, “Ok Mrs. Casady’s class, check your hands….” and it immediately gets their attention and redirects them.
e. Talk about our feelings chart – This one is tricky, but it really starts to work later in the year if you keep practicing. Some years, I am blessed with a class who just get along, and I haven’t had to use it. However, most of the time, it’s an important tool I’ve used over the years. This is a great way for students to talk to each other and share their feelings and not have to tattle ALL THE TIME. I would have to say that tattling is in their nature, and if they start to tattle to me and it isn’t a BIG problem and more of a little problem, I just point to the chart, and say, “tell him/her how that made you feel.” They knew what to do, and I don’t have to say anymore! To get them to this point, it takes a ton of modeling and role playing. They love pretending to do not nice things and then using the sentence frames to fix the problems.
2. Prepare your centers – I always start my centers day 1. It gets them into the routine of knowing what’s expected of them early on. The first week of school I definitely have to dial it back and give them centers they can do. Normally, this is when I pull small groups while they work independently throughout the year, but there is no way I do this the first few weeks of school. Sometimes even the whole month. I use this time to walk around and help them. If you are lucky enough to have an assistant he/she can be doing the same thing. I set the expectations early on that they are to stay in their seat and raise their hands for questions, and they are to keep working until it’s time to move to the next center.
Definitely, get yourself some organizing bins for manipulatives and your centers. I found these at the Target Dollar Spot.
Here are 2 hands-on centers that are GREAT for the beginning of the school year!
3. Partner sharing prep – I love setting up the routine for partner sharing early on. I usually start practicing by the end of the first week or maybe into the second depending on my timing. I do partner sharing every day for the entire year, so it’s super important to get that groundwork started early. I like to use catchy partner names like peanut butter and jelly, chips and salsa or milk and cookies. I have reminder cards to let the students know which one they are. Partner sharing happens while the students are sitting on the carpet, so I tape a reminder card on the floor in front of the row they are sitting in (sometimes I tape a smaller reminder card on their actual carpet square). I model with another student how to turn and talk to your partner. We start simple by having them share their names. I make sure they understand that peanut butter goes first, and then jelly goes second. You wait your turn and listen. Click here to download my partner sharing cards for free!
I like to use this partner sharing anchor chart as well to remind them. My partner sharing anchor chart is free! Click here to download.
4. Classroom rules – It’s important to know what sort of rules you want for your classroom before hand. What are things that you need to have happen in order to have a smooth sailing year. Whether you come up with your rules with your class on the first day or have your own rules, it is something you want to prep and have ready. I love to use these rules because they are very visual and can be turned into a chant with actions. I have them posted on the wall all year long. These are free in my store!
5. Get your assessments ready – I like to have a binder ready with all my assessments for each student. In the first week or two, I like to get everyone tested for letters, sounds, numbers, counting, etc. It’s important to have all this data early on, so I can group my students in reading and math groups as well as where to place them on the carpet for partner sharing. Here are my favorite assessments I like to use.
Click here for these assessments!
6. Table Captains and Classroom Jobs – It is important to have your students take ownership of the classroom and feel like they have a part in how everything is run. I always assign table captains weekly. They have the entire week to be in charge of collecting papers, moving their pencil and crayon buckets, passing out pencils, papers, etc. They love having that job for the week!
For classroom jobs, I post my jobs in a pocket chart and change them daily. I keep the jobs simple and have not too many. For me, I felt that too many individual jobs are just too much to manage. However, there is no wrong way to do this! I got these free from Kathryn Watts. Click here to download!
7. Using Hand Signals – I like to have hand signals where my students can use one simple gesture, and I know what they want without interrupting my lesson. These are the signal reminder cards I use. They are free from Khrys Bosland. Click here to download!
8. Make wearable name tags – If you’re like me, I have a hard time remembering names. The first few days of school, it’s crazy remembering all your student’s names! I decided to make name tags for the first couple of days, and it’s super helpful! I place them at their table and each morning they find them next to their name plates. You can find them at Lakeshore Learning or even in the Target Dollar Spot!
If you have any other tips to add, please share! I hope you have a fabulous year and start the year off like the boss of a teacher you are!
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