All teachers need a user-friendly system to help stay on top of the endless marking, checking and workpages. Plan as thoroughly as you can and if you don't already have one, develop a system of organization. It's truly amazing how much paperwork and marking goes into the first year. It's easy for a new teacher to feel overwhelmed and confused. Try to avoid these initial feelings by planning your lessons ahead as much as you can. Rely on a system that is easy and user friendly. Consider these tips when organizing or opening your classroom for the fall semester.
Remember, being well organized and having well prepared lessons are also important to having a well-managed class.
1) Have a computer backup plan. Purchase a flash drive, a hard drive, or consider creating a google documents account.
2) If you use a paper-based program, prepare everything you need for a smooth entry into the school year. Prepare important calendar dates; wait until your class is established to copy in the students. If you've working with an electronic system, decide on the grade weights or averaging system and establish the formula in the software.
Make sure you have a storage plan.
3) Have a plan for storing handouts like a stacking/filing system and a specific location for finding those stacks. Keep only 1 master copy of each file and recycle last year's bulk copies. Make sure you have a copy on your computer!
4) Prepare a make-up work plan and location that is ready for action by the first day of school. You never know when you'll need it!
5) Choose a location for this year's paperwork. If you keep an individual student file for each student, have an organizational system for each class. If you keep a separate file for each course or section, organize by that system too. Try really, really, really hard to have an empty file cabinet drawer for this year. You can at least lay the papers down in the file cabinet and close the drawer, even if there's no time or perhaps need to file in folders.
6) Old pictures and newspaper clippings tend to yellow and turn brittle. Laminate colorful pictures and recycle the rest. Libraries are a great place to donate unwanted textbooks and old readers that students no longer need.
7) For teachers in a staff teaching the same grade(s), a communal file or folder can be helpful for quick and easy access of workpages. Again, these should be divided into skill-sets and subjects.
Organize your own supplementary resource material. This can be a teacher's checklist that you consult and use frequently, some uplifting words for bad days, or a a list of reminders.
9) Have a folder with the school policies and regulations. You should especially know where you stand in terms of how your school deals with discipline problems. Having this file within easy access will definitely help you when you are confronted with difficult and unanticipated classroom situations, which undoubtedly will happen.
10) If you are a reading teacher, you might want to have a folder for informal reading comments as you listen to your students read the first week. Pre-assessments e-assessments) during the first weeks of school are especially important for getting to know your students.
11) Have folders with letters ready to send home on first or second day to parents. You may consider a separate drawer with different letter folders.
12) Keep a folder with the necessary handouts for any new student that may arrive a week or a month later. There's nothing worse than running around the room looking for important handouts for a new student!
13) If applicable, hang a bus list. Keep an extra copy in your folder.
14) Make sure you have a schedule for lunch and PE posted. This is VERY important to the students. Again, keep a master copy in your folder.
15) Have a folder with blank journal templates for the first day of school. Younger students can write a letter to their parents telling them all the things they learned that day. Older ones can write a list of goals setting their intentions for a good school year. Keep additional folders of blank seating charts, blank papers and other templates.
Okay, that's it for now. I hope I'm not forgetting something! If so, leave a comment. I'll respond to it.
Have a good summer and a smooth back-to-school landing!
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