Teacher's Guide to Getting Ready for the First Day of School

Whether you are a first-time teacher or an experienced educator, there are certain things you have in common. One of those things is the first day of school. Being prepared and ready to accept students into your classroom is paramount in making them feel welcomed to your classroom, and also giving you the edge to begin the school year off on the right foot. This simple guide will help you make sure you are ready for the first day of school. Know Your Stuff If you have not already done so, be sure to know your state standards for the grade level you are teaching. This information can usually be found at the board of education website for your state. Here you will learn about the mandatory regulations for math, reading, and writing, as well as other subjects. If you are a veteran teacher, you will also find any updates that may be different than before. Summertime is the time to go over these standards and contact your administrators with any questions you may have.

What's Your Behavior Management Plan?

It is highly recommended that you have a written plan for what rules will be implemented in your classroom. You should also know how to handle difficult students who do not follow the rules. The plan should be well thought out and look professional. Some schools require that you turn in your plan to the administration. Keep a copy for yourself, if you must do this. New teachers may have to start business management plan from scratch. In this case, don't be afraid to ask veteran teachers for their opinions. You don't necessarily have to use everything you hear, but it gives you a good idea of where teachers may feel the same on certain issues. While compiling information for your behavior management plan, contemplate these questions:

  • What incentives motivate children to behave?
  • How long are students in my grade expected to sit still?
  • In what ways does a positive environment affect students behavior?
  • When is the best time to allow children to work together; work independently?

These questions might help you tailor a behavior management plan that works. When something isn't working, change it!

Organizing a Seating Arrangement

Consider what ways you think would work best with seating arrangements in your classroom. Do you prefer to have the students facing you at all times? Does a group or sitting in teams approach appeal to you? Much of this will depend on your style of teaching. Are you a teacher that stands at the whiteboard most of the time, or at the front of the room, or do you like to walk around constantly and be interactive with your students? Keep in mind that you can try something at first, and if it isn't working out how you planned, you can by all means do something different. Again, see what other teachers are doing, and ask them how it is working out.

Classroom D├ęcor

Your classroom should be a safe haven for your students. It should be welcoming and warm. While you want the room to be structured and make sense, it can be given a "homey" feeling by placing pillows in a reading center (or even bean bag chairs). You can also let the students help decorate the room, to give them a sense that this is their room and you are their teacher, because you share ideas with them.

Classroom Materials

Make sure you have the following things ready for the first day of school:

  • Forms
  • File system
  • Lesson planner/grade tracker
  • Substitute/Emergency Lesson Folder
  • Nametags, if applicable
  • List of classroom jobs
  • List of classroom routines (Pledge, bathroom breaks, etc.)

Miscellaneous Information

Homework Assignments

Develop a homework policy that your students will understand. Talk with them about your expectations for completing homework assignments, and how your grading system works.

Letter to the Parents/Guardians

Devise a letter to be sent home to parents/guardians making yourself available to answer their questions, let them know you are excited about working with their children, and copies of your behavior management plan, homework policy, and other pertinent information about making the school year run efficiently. If you have a parent/student orientation night, you can give this letter out at that time.

Classroom Schedule

Record a schedule of how each day of the week will run. Go over this schedule with your students on the first day, and post the schedule in a place that is easy for them to see. Kids work well with routines, and being able to see what they are doing day-to-day will help them stay focused.