Tips I use to ensure a great start to the year
September is here and, for many, this means beginning a new school year. This is the time I start thinking about what I need to do to get my classroom ready for my students. Here are a few things I like to do before the students come in for their first day of school.
- Create a spreadsheet with information about the students.
This will help once you start loading students into various websites, such as VoiceThread, Edmodo, and blogs. These sites often allow for uploading the whole class at once using a CVS file. This is where the spreadsheet comes in. I include columns for first name, last name, username, password and grade. I recommend you do the work before the stress begins. When it is time to load students into a website, it will take you no more than five minutes.
- Load students into websites you know you will be using early in the year.
I always set up my blogs and VoiceThread before school starts. Edmodo, MangaHigh, Wikispaces and Glogster EDU come later when I am ready to show the students how to use these sites.
- Clean up your saved files.
I always save each SMART Notebook collaborative learning software presentation I create under a different name as I use it. So my “poetry” file gets re-saved as “poetry2012”. This keeps my “poetry” file clean while allowing me to work with the students in the presentation. Before school begins, I go through each re-saved 2012 file, to see if any new pages are worth keeping. After transferring the pages I want to keep into my clean file, I delete the old files, leaving only clean presentations for the new school year.
- Set up the room for easy access to the SMART Board interactive whiteboard.
I like to keep my large purple rug right in front of the SMART Board interactive whiteboard. When I am teaching lessons using the board, the children can sit on the carpet comfortably. The rest of my furniture is around the rug in different groupings so children have work spaces away from the SMART Board.
- Create a small goodie bag for each student, which can be found on each desk as they enter the classroom.
The goodie bag can hold items you know they will need on the first day. I include a sharpened pencil, a bookmark, a ruler and a small notebook. Not only do the children enjoy getting these treats, but now I don’t have to worry if someone arrives on the first day of school without supplies.
By completing just a few quick chores before the students arrive, you can help make your year start off well.
Keep these tips in mind to create a great atmosphere right from the start
- Shake hands with each student as they enter the classroom.
Say hello, ask their name, say something personal. This is something I do each day of the year. It’s a great way to set the tone for the rest of the day.
- Carefully introduce tools to the students.
Show them the proper way to use the SMART Board interactive whiteboard so they don’t damage it. Let them write on it on that first day so they know this is a tool they can use. Also show them how to turn the computer on and off properly and how to save files.
- Take your time unpacking school supplies.
I used to have students unpack supplies right away. Now I wait until I have set the tone for the day. We have a class meet and greet, set up rules and logical consequences, and learn about using school tools. When we finally get ready to unpack supplies, students are ready to listen to directions about where to put everything and how to label them. It makes for a much less chaotic situation.
- Enjoy your day.
Your mood will have a huge effect on the tone of the room. If you are stressed and flustered, your students will be too. Have everything organized, overplan your day, and relax! Let the fun begin!
You can also read my EDCompass blog post, SMART Board tips from a fourth-grade teacher, to gather ideas for using your SMART Board interactive whiteboard in the classroom.
Check out my personal blog, Lisa’s Lingo, and a book co-authored, called Making Connections with Blogging: Authentic Learning in Today’s Classroom.