The first few days of the school year are the most crucial for a successful year. We have all heard how important it is to build relationships and have good classroom procedures. But, we are not often given the tools to successfully implement these important practices. And sometimes, we are even provided with ideas that hinder these practices – such as a pacing guide that has us starting to teach content on day 1 or 2. I have created and collected ideas and tools for your back-to-school toolkit to make your life easier and your classroom more productive!
First Week Priorities
Housekeeping Items from School/District
My school and district always have several “housekeeping” type items that must be done. These are things like “warm-body counts,” paperwork, distributing textbooks, collecting supplies, going over the syllabus, taking attendance, etc. I try to be prepared in each of these processes so that I may do these efficiently and overlap them with an activity so students aren’t bored and we don’t waste time. One thing that can help with these processes is a place to make student checklists, record their textbook #s, etc. is this editable grade book. The file is an excel document, so you can type student names in or print the document and jot notes onto it. Here are a few things other teachers are saying about this resource:
“This resource is a total lifesaver! I am very happy with the fact that it is completely editable! I use it as a back up to our district grade book. Thank you!” -Denise G
“I’ve been using this grading record for 2 years now and never plan to quit!! I edit them every quarter for new kids that come in and new grades. They are so easy to use and easy to edit! My favorite teacher source!” -Elyse D.
Build Authentic and Genuine Relationships
Building authentic and genuine relationships with students takes time. Sometimes, connections are made and bonds are created in the first week. Sometimes, it takes longer with some students. No matter what, these resources are perfect for laying the strong foundations of lasting relationships. Not only do the activities below help teachers to get to know their students, but they allow students to get to know the teacher and each other! If you want students to be excited to come to your class, they have to feel comfortable with you and with their classmates.
“I was tired of doing the typical ice breakers and this got my students moving around the room and up doing something different.” -Christina C.
“This was the perfect beginning of the year activity. It was engaging and felt fresh. The font was nice. My kids loved it and I got to know a lot about them. I loved the interview a student activity.” Heather L
Classroom Procedures and Routines
Next to building strong relationships with students, there is no practice that is more important than having great procedures and routines in place. I am a firm believer in establishing efficient routines, teaching them, practicing them, and assessing them. Once students feel comfortable and understand your clear expectations, they thrive. And there are so many fewer behavior disruptions. So, even if it takes you longer than you would like to spend teaching and assessing the procedures, do it. You get that time back throughout the year by not wasting time and spending it on behavior disruptions. These two resources are what I use to make sure I have established good routines that work for me and my students and have a great way to teach them.
“When I purchased this, I thought I’d need to modify it a bit for my needs. You reminded this veteran of 27 years that I had forgotten to include some things in my “Welcome back!” speech! Thank you- thank you- thank you!” -Teresa S.
“my kids really enjoyed this power point and the brain breaks that were worked in. I liked that you added slides that I could edit since I had a few questions that were specifically about my school.” -Lobo’s Learn
FIRST WEEK HESITATIONS
As a secondary teacher, you may be feeling a tad anxious that I never mentioned teaching content. That’s okay. We have a lot of content to teach and seemingly not enough time to do it. I also feel the pressure to begin teaching on day 2. Our district pacing guide actually expects us to. But, I resisted and I encourage you to do so, too. I assure you that you will get that time back in the form of efficiency with procedures and fewer discipline interruptions due to your strong rapport with your students.
However, if you must begin content, mix some in with these classroom environment practices. For example, one of my important procedures is Bell Work. Let students practice this routine with a few content review problems or prompts to get their brains going.
Back to School Toolkit
Lastly, if you are interested in these back-to-school tools for your classroom, consider purchasing the Back to School Bundle for Secondary Teachers. By getting the bundle that includes the six resources mentioned above, you save 33%! Their total price is $15 if purchased separately, but if purchased in the bundle, you pay only $10. And, you receive a BONUS file – a lesson plan template – for free with the purchase of the bundle.