“Thank you for entrusting your children to me this year. It is a responsibility I take very seriously. Please pray for us that we may have a good year and that we will glorify God in our class.” This is the closing of the letter I send to parents prior to the first day of school. I suppose that “first day of school” and “new school year” are pretty high on the list of what teachers are thinking about now!
How do I prepare for a new year? What should I be doing now, at two weeks out from the first day? What can wait? What should have already been done?
I will have the charge of 24 students this year. Some days I might have these children more waking hours than their parents will. What kind of influence will I be? Will I lead them well? I do hope we have a good year, but more than that, I pray that I will serve God well in my school and classroom and that we will glorify God.
First-graders look up to the teacher and I pray that I will be a godly example to my students. I remember a parent telling me that her child told her “Miss Birt said” whatever it was, and so that meant it was true! Another child did not believe the parent about something because it was different from what Miss Birt had said.
In some ways, I’ve been preparing for the new school year ever since the past year was over. I’ve thought about plans and ideas as I spent hours driving this summer. I took pictures on vacation because we have a story at school about that place. I talked with the kindergarten teacher about the incoming first-graders. I’ve watched for supplies and materials as I’ve shopped in various places. I’ve gathered new games and centers that need to be prepped over the summer. Soon it will be time to put this all together to teach my students!
I like to make lists, so here is a list for preparing for a new school year:
- Decide on a theme for the year. (My theme is traveling, and titled “Journeys in First Grade.”)
- Send letters to students. (These letters give information about first grade and welcome the students to the class. The letters are mailed by snail mail, addressed to the students, and sent about two weeks before school starts.)
- Send letters to parents (These letters introduce the teacher to the parents and invite collaboration in working with their children. Parent letters are enclosed with the student letters.)
- Determine a room arrangement. How will the desks be arranged? Where will my desk be? Where will we meet for group times? Think about passageways and locations for centers, trashcans, tables, and math meetings.
- Put things away after school cleaning.
- Take an inventory of my materials – oh, I forgot I had this game! This is a fun manipulative – make a note to stick in my teacher edition so I remember to use this.
- Put a welcome message on the SIS.
- Plan the new bulletin boards. Put up the new bulletin boards!
- Fill in student birthdays on the birthday chart and hang it up.
- Write student birthdays, school calendar dates, and special days in my planner.
- Do lesson plans for the first day of school.
- Post the bus list.
- Prepare desk name tags and put on student desks.
- Prepare student numbers.
- Make schedule cards and post first-day schedule.
- Write classroom rules on whiteboard.
- Finish cleaning and sorting. My desk drawers need to be arranged, and there are some cupboards that still need to be sorted out
- Go shopping for school supplies. Get folders for each child to keep in their desks. Find extra supplies for myself.
- Put student textbooks on the table, ready for distribution on first day of school
- Plan ahead for procedures. How do I want the children to turn in papers? When is pencil sharpening allowed? How and where will they keep their backpacks and coats? How do we line up?
- Prepare room jobs. (Helping Hands is what we will use – the children each make a handprint and the handprints circle around the “Helping Hands” sign. I have the room jobs written on hands and rotate these hands around the student handprints to show their jobs for the week.)
- Display learning posters.
- Start Word Wall.
I’ll share a few thoughts for that first day of school. New books and supplies are exciting, so we will make sure to hand out the textbooks and arrange the new supplies in the student desks. We will talk about taking care of our books and supplies and how to keep them in the desks. Because this is the first time that they have their own desks, I may draw a “desk map” on the board and show the children how to fit everything neatly in their desks.
It is important for first-graders to have something to take home on the first day of school, so we will do some kind of worksheet or simple project that they can take home and show to their families. I usually send home some notes of first-grade information, as well.
Learning to know the teacher and classmates is important, and we will begin that on the first day with a game to get to know the classmates. I will introduce myself and show some pictures of my life. I introduce the classroom and discuss some of the procedures and guidelines. (This won’t all happen on the first day as that is too much information for one day!) I invite the administrator to stop by and introduce him to the class. We will spend some time going over dismissal procedures and make sure everyone knows where to go to the bus.
Well, this looks like a pretty long list. I better get busy!
CONTRIBUTOR: Arlene Birt