Posted in Routines

Another year over…

This weeks post was inspired by @stephyadan and her contributions to the Twitter chat #pstchat (PreServiceTeachers).

Part of the chat on Monday night involved an analysis of how teachers spend their hard-earned holidays. Personally, I would love to use the entire school break for rest and relaxation. Mentally, I cannot afford to, because I need to feel adequately prepared for the first few days of the term.
As the summer holidays are just around the corner, I have begun my preparation for my 2014 school year already. I actually have a folder on my computer labelled ‘Classroom setup’, which is my go-to guide for the beginning of any new year. It contains documents like:
  • labels for cupboards to document what is in each one
  • a variety of birthday charts
  • dividers to organise my binders
  • permission notes for my class blog
  • bulletin board signs
  • book cover templates
  • parent surveys/communication forms
  • classroom/door displays
  • a letter for my new class
  • classroom handbook for parents
All the ‘pretty’ things like the birthday charts, displays and posters are probably not what some teachers would deem as necessities for the first week. I only put a few up before the students start to emphasise a welcoming and safe environment, as my first week at school is dedicated to getting students to produce pieces of work to display in the classroom to give them a sense of ownership and importance.
Two of my most treasured resources for the beginning of a new school year are my letter to my new class and my classroom handbook for parents. The letter to my new class is a requirement from my school, to begin that teacher-student relationship before the new school year begins . (We do have a transition day where students meet their new teacher at the end of the year, but this letter is sent out during the holidays). It is a way of my students getting to know a little bit more about me, on a personal level. I have found that students LOVE finding out personal details about their teacher – seeing their car in the car park, knowing their siblings names, etc.  For those of you who think this could be something you might like to implement, see below.
Letter to students 2014 (PDF)
The classroom handbook for parents is a way for me to communicate the little routines and habits that I expect or prefer in my classroom. This is really personalised for every teacher and I found that even though my co-teacher and I taught the same content, little details about the running of our classrooms were different. Most parents will read it, some will not (can’t win them all!)
Parent Info Booklet (PDF)
Is this the best way to run my classroom? I don’t know – this is only my third year teaching, with many years still ahead of me. It’s important to focus on what makes me comfortable and what is successful for the students and parents in my care.
What structures do you put in place at the start of the year to ensure your class runs smoothly?

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