Back to School season is already around the corner… well not in New York City where I am because school just let out 3 weeks ago, but in many other parts of the country it’s almost that time!
I’m no longer in the classroom, but I know that first week back for teachers (before the students arrive) can be very hectic. There are a million things to do to get ready and you have meetings all morning, so prep time is quite limited.
Those super teachers who post ridiculous pictures of their classrooms (yes, I’m a hater and I’m okay with it) for Back to School are great and all… but I never lived at the school. If you’re also not interested in moving into the school or alphabetizing your classroom library on Saturday morning, here are my suggestions for what to prioritize when time is limited before kids come running down the halls.
1. Lesson Plans
- Is every PowerPoint ready to go? Did you fix those glitches in your animations from last year?
- Have you checked over your handouts for those spelling errors you were embarrassed by last year?
- Have any policies from last year changed in your head that you need to put on paper?
- Are you sure you have every minute filled with engaging material? Because if you remember that lesson on the third day last year, kids had nothing to do for the last 10 minutes of class… maybe don’t repeat that.
- Have you made copies? Do you have enough copies for when they give you 5 extra kids at the last second without telling you? Because you know they’ll do that.
2. Classroom Set-up
- How do you want to arrange your desks? Do you want to have the kids sit in groups? In rows? In 3s spaced apart all facing the front? In a U shape? I’m personally partial to rows, but it really depends on the culture of your school and how much space you have to work with.
- Do you have a way of marking the floors so you know exactly where each row or group is supposed to be? Desks have a way of traveling around the room throughout the day. (Are you allowed to mark the floors? Will the janitors wish bad things upon you if you do it?) I’ve seen teachers make lines on the floors with sharpies (the janitors definitely wished bad things upon them) and also just put colored tape down.
- How will you decide where students sit? You can go alphabetical, random, by personality if you already know the students.
- How will you tell students where they sit? (Or will you let them choose their seats on Day 1? *insert look of shock and horror*) I used to label the desks with a piece of tape and sharpie in a corner of each desk and then have a slide on the PowerPoint as students came in (or on a paper with a document camera if you have one of those) with each student’s name and desk number on it. That way they could find their desks quickly and without needing me.