By Teachers, For Teachers
It’s back to school time! Are you ready for the new school year to start? There’s a lot of do and not much time left to do it in. To help alleviate some of that back to school stress, we are answering some of the top things teachers are most worried about. Here are the top five questions answered about going back to school.
The best way to help students settle into the classroom is to make your classroom a warm and inviting atmosphere. You can do that by creating a space that feels like home. Hang your students’ photos and artwork on the wall, create fun bulletin boards, make a cozy reading corner, and hang a few flowers and plants up.
In addition to creating a cozy learning space, you can have students go on a classroom scavenger hunt. This fun classroom activity is a great way for students to get to know one another, and will help students get acquainted with your classroom setup. All you have to do is create a list with clues that students need to find in the classroom, they can check the items off as they go. Include items such as find the book corner, the cubby, the restroom, the homework basket, the class rules list, the classroom library, and so on. This fun, interactive classroom activity is a great way to welcome students back to school.
The number one best tip is to create a back-to-school checklist. Creating a checklist is the easiest way to ensure that you have completed all of your classroom responsibilities and essential tasks. To get started, break up your checklist into sections: Classroom arrangement and organization, rules and routines, and first-week tasks. Then under each section, you can add the tasks that you would like to be completed. For example, under the “Classroom arrangement and organization” section, you can list, determine seating chart and desk arrangement, plan and decorate the bulletin boards, plan, create, and decorate the front door entrance into the classroom, make sure the learning centers are set up and all of the supplies are ready and in place, etc. Under the “Rules and routines” section, you can list tasks, such as create a routine for attendance, lunch count, bathroom, and walking in hallways, create a morning routine (morning message, morning packets), and decide on your homework policy and post it in the classroom. If you want to make sure that you’ll have a successful back to school experience, then a checklist is the best way to guarantee that.
There are so many effective classroom icebreaker activities to help students get to know one another, that it’s hard to just pick a few. However, there are a few popular getting-to-know-you classroom activities that are known to help break the ice rather quickly. For example, there’s the game “Group Juggle.” This icebreaker activity forces students to learn names in a fast-paced ball game. Students sit on their desks and throw a soft ball to a peer, but when they throw it, they must say “Here you go___”. Then, when they catch it they must say “Thank you___.”
Another teacher/student favorite is the puzzle piece game. This is where the teacher hands each student one puzzle piece as they enter the classroom, and it’s the students’ job to find another student in the classroom who puzzle piece fits perfectly into theirs. This game forces students to talk to everyone on the classroom in order to see whose puzzle pieces fits with theirs.
Classroom rules are essential to have if you want your classroom to run smoothly. Classroom rules will also help to set the tone for how you want your classroom to run. These rules will ensure that you’ll have a safe and respectful learning environment, as well as help your classroom run more efficiently.
As far as creating your classroom rules with or without your students, it’s totally up to you. However, keep in mind that when your students are a part of creating the rules, it is said that there’s a better chance that they will follow them, because they helped to create them. Now, if you don’t like the idea of the students coming up with the rules, then you can easily “Sway” the students into creating rules that you want them to have. All you have to do is give them examples of what you think are good rules and have them choose from those. The goal is that the rules must be agreed upon and understood by all, and that logical consequences have to be related to the misbehavior.
The first week back to school is a very hectic time, so it’s imperative that you are ready for it. The best way to prepare is to create a separate checklist just for your first weeks’ plans. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started.
What is your top back to school concern that you’re most worried about? Please feel free to share with us in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you on this topic.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.