Need some ideas for getting ready for the new school year? Check out these ideas by Tiffany from Sarasota, FL.
Planning for a new year is such an exciting time—a time to build on things that worked and a chance to change things that didn’t. As part of my planning, I take time to reflect on the year that just ended and ask myself questions that help me plan for the new year ahead. Here are some typical questions I pose to myself:
Questions to Ask Yourself While Preparing for the New School Year
• “What role do desks have in my classroom?” In my class, I plan a lot of group work, learning centers, and rotations where the students are often away from their desks. I have a system in place that dictates what will be kept at the desks. I really like the idea of planning thematic boxes or kits for organizing materials for each team table. This past year I organized a safari theme in which I glued plastic animals to the tops of the boxes. Next year I will plan more of the same.
• “What role does my teacher desk have in my classroom? Will my students visit my desk for supplies or resources?” In the past, my desk was “computer-supply-paper-collection-central.” I found that if I were busy running something from my computer for use with my electronic whiteboard, a student would always “need” something from my desk. Next year, I’ll designate a supply zone and inbox for assignments in an area away from my desk.
• “What theme will I choose for the year?” I like to get creative with a theme that serves my purposes: one that aligns with our standards, the age group I teach, a state-related study, our school mascot, etc. When planning other aspects of my classroom, I tie everything back to that theme, e.g., management tools, room layout, team names, design/decoration, word walls, date/growth wall, etc. For next year, I am planning a friendly pirate theme complete with treasure boxes, a parrot Word Wall featuring a stuffed parrot and word bubbles with common parrot sayings plus paper crackers labeled with sight words, gold coin incentives, bulletin boards covered with fishnet and more.
• “What classroom routines do I need to put into place? What do I expect my kids to do once an assignment is completed? When will students be allowed to sharpen pencils? When can students use the bathrooms? Where do I want them to place various papers? How will I rotate students through learning centers?” Each year I ask myself these questions anew.
• “What classroom resources do I need to purchase or secure? What do I already own that can be put to better use? What can I make, reuse, recycle or discard?” I like to make a wish list and watch for sales on those things I need/want. I laminate all posters, bulletin board and paper items to ensure they will last throughout the year, if not longer. I think about what I can create from supplies I already own. I make sure I designate a use and a space for each thing I bring into my classroom.