It’s the 11th of August and whether we like it or not, the first day back to school is looming in our minds.
Some super-organised people may have the bulk of prep work done since June (such people are rarer than Mew Pokémon), some will head in a few days before the first day back and some will delay the inevitable until the first day back to school and get stuck in from then on.
Whether you’re the rare Pokémon teacher or still have it all left to do, you may be compiling a to-do list and a shopping list for supplies.
Spending hours on Pinterest will give you a lot of ideas and inspiration. However, it will also give you a lot of jobs for your to-do list, many of which will be unnecessary and not the best use of your time.
We want to enjoy the last few weeks of our holidays and yet, we want to start September as we mean to go on; organised, prepared and stress-free.
So to help you with all of the above, we have a compiled a to-do list for you with, what we think, should be your priorities. Get this much done and you’ll be off to a great start!
Save the above image, screenshot it, email it to yourself or share it with friends on Facebook for easy-access when you decide to make a start!
- Clean classroom
First things first, ensure you have a tidy desk! There will be so much stuff left (dumped) on your desk in the first few days that you’ll be constantly organising and tidying your desk. You don’t want to misplace permission slips, money or notes at this early stage of the year. Baskets and containers are quite cheap and great for organising flashcards and stationery.
2. Print Class list and Booklist
Print about 10 copies of your class list. If your school uses the software Aladdin, then there’s a very simple way of downloading your class list.
Arrange the children’s first names in alphabetical so you can quickly locate an individual if needs be. These lists are perfect for recording money, counting books and copies, taking attendance in the first few days and making quick notes. I like to collect all books and stack them in piles according to subject. I then go through the pile, ticking off each child’s name as I see their book, and can quickly see which children are missing books. The first few mornings can be chaotic with meeting parents and collecting money. If possible, send them to the school secretary with money as it saves you a job and the school office will have a cabinet or safe to lock money away securely.
Keeping a copy or two of the booklist may also come in useful. Some parents will have been away when they were given out earlier in the summer or lost theirs and will come to school without one or all of the books or materials listed. Don’t start off on a negative note with any parent if this is the case, for everybody’s sake and sanity! Politely hand them a copy of the booklist and ask them to get them as soon as possible.
3. Print Pupil Names on Labels
On the subject of books, print some sheets of labels so you have 4-5 labels for each child. Not all parents will labels the books and copies on the front and rather than send them home to be done (they may take days to come back!) you can stick labels on them immediately as you notice they are missing. Labels are also handy for the kids to wear while you learn names, for putting on coat hooks or jobs charts. Help me out with some labels!
4. Cover Display Boards
You may have some displays which stay up year-round. Always start afresh for your Arts and SESE boards. Cover them with fadeless paper and instantly clean up the walls of your classroom.
5. Purchase Diary and Plan your First Week
The first week of school is often a time to try nice lessons with plenty of group work and discussion. You can learn a lot about your pupils in the first few days. Ensure you have your diary purchased and plan your lessons for the first few days (my personal fave are the not-so-cheap Ban.Do diaries as seen above!). Lessons will vary depending on the class level but if you’re stuck for ideas, let us know on firstname.lastname@example.org, or any of our social media accounts and we’ll write a diary entry on this!
- Buy Stickers and Small Prizes
Establishing your rules and routines is vital in the weeks of September. Try to develop a relationship with each child, easier said than done I know but learning something (pet’s name, number of brothers/sisters, favourite cartoon) about each pupil will make a great start.
Once upon a time the phrase “Don’t smile until Halloween” was suggested as a classroom management strategy. Times have changed and so has our style of teaching. Reward efforts made by pupils and positive behaviours with stickers and small prizes. These small tokens paired with affirmative feedback can have a great effect. Our Back-to-School Packs have everything you need to get set for September and are fantastic value at just €20! (Available in both English and as Gaeilge)