Between the two of us, we have switched grade levels and schools seven times in our teaching careers! With each transition there is obviously a new curriculum to learn and new expectations for ourselves and our students. We’ve learned that it doesn’t matter if you’re brand new to the teaching field (best job ever, in our opinion!) or switching grades this year after spending several years in one classroom, it’s nice to have a few things set in stone that you won’t have to think about while scrambling to get the rest of your classroom organized.
Here are three tips we’ve learned over the years that might help make your August a little less stressful!
Tip #1: Have a concrete classroom management plan in place.
Ask yourself the following questions to begin getting an idea of what your classroom management plan will look like:
- What are your expectations for student behavior?
- What are the consequences when a student doesn’t meet those expectations?
- What is your policy on using the restroom during class? Do students just walk out? Is there a signal?
- Will you have classroom jobs and how do those play a part of your management plan?
- How do students hand in their finished work? (Check out our blog post on collecting and passing back papers here.)
What works in third grade is obviously going to be different in eighth grade. Write out all your expectations for behavior, transitioning among subjects, using the restroom, getting water, etc … and have them ready to communicate with your students on Day 1.
Furthermore, what is your system for monitoring student behavior and communicating with parents? Have it in place, so you’re not scrambling to assemble something on an as-needed basis.
There’s plenty of other stuff to think about instead of starting from scratch. (We just heard this on our guilty pleasure Bravo show, “Southern Charm,” and it’s applicable here: “You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just add air to the tires!” Check out the system that works for us – our Student Behavior & Parent Communications Binder.
Looking for other Classroom Management ideas? Click here to see some of the strategies we use in our classrooms.
Tip 2: Be prepared! Be prepared! Be prepared! For a substitute that is.
Of course, this is important on a daily basis, but even more crucial on a day when you call in sick! The last thing you want to do is write out detailed plans for a sub an hour before school starts – we’ve done that before, and it’s very stressful. And let’s face it, how many times have we left plans for a sub, only to return and realize our lessons didn’t get done like we expected and need to be retaught. It’s helpful to have emergency sub plans in place that can be used at a moment’s notice and are still educational and engaging for your students! Check out our Emergency Substitute Binder blog post here – we walk you through everything we include in our own sub binder. We also use this great ELA resource for our Emergency Sub Lesson Plans. We suggest making copies of the activities at the start of the school year and placing them in a clearly labeled binder on your desk – ready to go if needed!
Tip 3: Make ALL of your copies and have ALL of your lesson plans prepared for the first two weeks of school.
Those first weeks back can be incredibly exciting, but also stressful, especially if you’re switching grade levels or are brand new to teaching. We like to have all of our copies (syllabi, first-week activities, all lesson plan materials, etc.) finalized two weeks before school starts. Most of the time, the week before school is dedicated to faculty meetings, retreats, and other various activities.
Our Back to School Bundle that we’ve created includes all of the materials and resources we use for those first few weeks back – including our ELA Emergency Sub Lesson Plans that makes the transition into the new year seamless. This resource will save you time and energy during those last precious days of vacation!
And, CLICK HERE to grab our Back to School ELA Mega Bundle which will make your life SO much easier as you head back to school!