Did you read that title and feel a little bit of panic too? It can be SUPER overwhelming planning for the first few weeks of school. I promise you though, when this time is WELL spent, it makes your first weeks of school a breeze, and it also helps you lay a solid foundation for the ENTIRE year with students. My goal by the time you finish reading this, is that you have TONS of tools, helpful ideas, and of course less stress for your prep ahead.
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Solid Plans Equals Success
Having a solid plan in place will help alleviate A LOT of unnecessary stress. One thing that I’ve found that helps to combat that is to be OVER PREPARED. That’s right! That may sound like a contradiction, however I’ve found that by overplanning, I am less stressed and the students are always ready for ALL the things.
Check out this exclusive Teaching Timeline Freebie. This helps you create your plan for back to school starting a month before school starts. I know that may sound like a lot but I promise if you start planning early, you’ll be ready for absolutely everything. With this timeline, I’ll help you plan through the weeks before school starts, setting up for meet the teacher night, and then the first six weeks of school. You’ll be ready to walk in the doors on day one with students and have everything ready to go. Grab your freebie below!
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Classroom Setup that is Sustainable
Part of preparing for the first weeks of school is planning out your classroom setup. It’s important to take time to think through your seating arrangement, flow, and the type of seating you will have. With this post HERE, we’ll talk through effective strategies for classroom setup together. Want to dive into flexible seating but not sure where to start? THIS post can help you prepare ALL the things for the first weeks of school with students!
One crucial component during the classroom setup phase is labeling. I don’t know about you, but it feels like as soon as that class list hits my hands I’m ready to label ALL the things. A few years back, I smarted up after realizing it was TOO much work to relabel everything year after year. Instead, now I simply assign students a number, I label numbers on cubbies, bins, hooks, etc, ONE TIME and it stays put every year. When new kids come in next year, they’ll too get assigned and it’s less work for me! It’s such a great time saver and a great way to help students organize.
Teaching Must Haves
Listed below you’ll find some of my favorite tools to help make the first weeks of school a BREEZE!
Back to School Procedure Checklists
These editable checklists help you think through ALL the procedures that need to be taught at the beginning of the year so that ultimately, your classroom runs itself. That’s right! With THESE checklists and the guide mentioned below, you will have your classroom running like a well oiled machine that doesn’t even need you at the helm!
I LOVE incorporating an array of literature in learning whenever I can. There are SO many amazing books out there to help teach all the important skills at the beginning of the year. Remember to let your characters reflect everyone in your classroom! Check out this jam packed list HERE!
Bins, bins, and more bins!
Getting yourself organized is just as important or if not more important than helping the students get organized. There are SO many great tools out there to help you arrange things in a way that works. Bins are one of my favorite tools and you can never go wrong with too many bins. Chances are if you have something that needs to be organized, a bin is a good place for it. Rainbow carts are another great tool for organizing your materials in a color coded system. I also love THESE Michael’s Scrapbook Bins for organizing materials for centers. Take a look at how I organize mine below and learn more about center organization HERE!
There are SO many great teacher supplies out there to support you, and no I’m not talking the stationary aisle, although we LOVE that shopping trip. I’m talking about some of my favorite guides to help support you during your first few weeks of school with students. THIS is my comprehensive list of guide/books to help set up important structures, build a strong classroom community, and most importantly, create a solid foundation for the entire year with students!
The first is the Beginning of the Year Survival Guide. With this guide you will work through the ‘Big Three’, packed with thought provoking questions to make a back to school plan for the first six weeks of school. When we talk about the Big Three, we design your classroom setup, outline ideas for our classroom community, and of course deep dive into the classroom management piece. Grab this newly published book HERE! Or if you prefer a more interactive version, check out the Building a Student Centered Classroom course found HERE!
The First Six Weeks of School is another MUST HAVE! I go back and review strategies from this book every year to make sure I have everything ready and set for the first six weeks. While it helps you plan out those crucial first weeks of school, it also helps build a solid foundation for the entire year with students. Grab it HERE!
When it comes to thinking about the community you want to build in your classroom, there are two books I absolutely love. The Morning Meeting Book and 80 Morning Meeting Ideas are both great reads that help with important community building structures and the ideas include awesome back to school topics and activities to break the ice, have some fun, and start building that strong community from day one!
Classroom Management Hacks
Another big piece of preparing your classroom for the first weeks of school is to spend A LOT of time planning for rules, routines, and procedures. One of the most helpful hacks I’ve learned when teaching expectations is to teach students exactly what it looks like and sounds like for EVERY procedure. This lets them know precisely what is expected and don’t be afraid to hold your students to a high standard. When you practice, you make sure that EVERY SINGLE STUDENT is following the expectation. That way your year is a BREEZE with students because they know EXACTLY what it looks and sounds like when they are totally on point.
Spending time creating rules WITH students, teaching ALL those routines and procedures, and of course setting high expectations for EVERY student to follow, is a recipe for success. Below you’ll find slides to help students learn about those procedures and of course practice, practice, practice! Creating anchor charts with student images is another great tool that helps students see exactly what they should be doing and motivates them to continue working hard to meet those expectations!
The First Week of School
All this preparation leads up to one of the most stressful and overwhelming times of the year- the first week of school. This week is another time where I tend to over plan so that there is NEVER down time and students are focused on learning about ALL the things that will make our classroom into what it will be. We spend time getting to know each other, building our community, team building, learning about all the important routines and procedures, and of course how we have fun together.
Don’t worry though, I’ve done all the hard work for you so that again, YOU are less stressed starting out those first few weeks with students. With the First Week MEGA Bundle, you will have EVERYTHING you need planned out for you so that you can have fun and get to know your students without the stress and anxiety. We’re talking jam packed lesson plans, engaging activities, and procedures to teach all in one convenient bundle for you to grab, print, and go. Check it out HERE!
I really hope you enjoyed learning about how to alleviate some of that back to school stress during those first few weeks of school! Dash over to my store and grab the First Week Kit to help support ALL your needs. Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list! Not only will you get the most up to date tips, tricks, and classroom projects… and of course more fun FREEBIES including Back to School Teaching Timeline FREEBIE! You will also have exclusive access to tons of digital how to videos! If you would like to learn about this and other things happening in my classroom follow me @sweetnsauerfirsties on Instagram.
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