How To Prepare For A Great New Semester
I don't know when your school year is starting but mine is right around the corner! I want to share what things I like to do to make sure I am ready and prepared for a great semester! I truly believe that if you "front load" before the school year and have these things done before your busy school schedule begins, your semester will go lots smoother!
Plan Your Scope and Sequence
When I say "scope and sequence" I just mean planning what topic you'll teach or activities you'll do each day. This can be as brief as you like! If you have taught before you probably already have lessons planned for each topic but if you haven't taught before it's okay to only know what you will cover that day but not know how yet. I like to first look at my school calendar and I actually print out a Calendar At A Glance to help me easily plan my scope and sequence. This helps me to know what the dates are and when we have holidays or days off. I first go through and put in all the dates on my scope and sequence. Then I decide the order that I will teach the content in my class and then I start to plan! I love using a digital scope and sequence (you can get my scope and sequence template here) because it's easy to copy and paste, or cut and paste to move things around as I am figuring it out. Obviously things will probably change as the semester goes on but I really like having a plan because then I'm never wondering what am I teaching next week? I think this will help you to feel a lot less stressed during the school year!
Create/Update Class Disclosures
Class disclosures are something you need ready for the first week so having these updated and ready to go before school starts is a great idea. I don't have parents sign my class disclosures-- instead I have them take a parent survey through a Google Form! I feel like the class disclosure is for the students and parents don't ever read them anyway. I let students take a copy of our class disclosure home if they would like but they are not required to. I put a QR code on the disclosure document that leads to the parent survey but I also link it on our LMS. If nothing else, I always have to remember to change the QR code to the new semester's parent survey so that I don't have everyone going to the old Google Form. I create the QR codes using the QR Code Generator chrome extension that I talked about in THIS blog post. I do have a disclosure document template and a parent survey template in my TPT store if you're interested.
Create/Update Class Supply Lists
Depending on your class and your school or district's policies you may or may not have a class supply list. But if you do, this is something you will also want to have updated and ready to go before Back To School Night (as we call it) where parents and students come and meet their teachers. I like to have copies of the class supply list as well as QR codes that take them to the class supply list digitally, and I also hang up the class supply list on the board so that they can simply take a picture on their phone if they wish to have it that way.
Plan in Detail What You're Doing the First Week
Even if you don't have your whole semester planned out, at least know what you're doing the first week! And think through all the details so that you can feel fully prepared and not have that stress added to the nerves you may feel. Think through what supplies you'll need, what copies you'll need, and how much time you'll have. If there are activities you are doing in the first week that require prep, have that done before school starts. I promise it will help you feel more relaxed and ready and things will go smoother. I love to play First Day Jeopardy on our first day of class and I also love doing the Investigate The Teacher Activity from Write On With Miss G. I also love doing "First Week Learning Stations" where I have students do things like read the class disclosure and answer some questions about it, take a student survey for me to get to know them more, submit song requests for our class playlist, and create a one word goal for our Goals wall. I will probably do a whole other blog post on just my first week of school activities!
Have Classroom Procedures in Place
Make sure you have thought through classroom procedures before the school year starts because it is very important to start off enforcing them from day one. I like to have my students start practicing our class routines from the moment they step into my room! For example, my classes all do a bell ringer first thing when they come into class and I start that on day one so that it becomes habit and they know no different. Make sure you have thought about things like Where will students turn in their work? Will they turn in late work to the same place? How will you deal with students leaving to go to the bathroom? What will be your phone policy? (If your school doesn't have a school wide policy). What will you tolerate in your classroom and what will you not? Lots of things to think about but decide what you will do before the first day and then stick to it! Being consistent is the KEY.
Get Your LMS Ready
My district uses Canvas as our LMS and I always try to have my class Canvas courses ready to go before the school year starts. Taking the time to do it before the busy school year starts means having less stress during the school year! There's always things I am editing as the year goes but try to do as much as you can before school starts. Students will also appreciate knowing ahead of time what is coming up. I also take time to link my updated class disclosure and class supply lists as well updating the links for parent and student surveys.
Make As Many Copies As You Can!!
I already mentioned making copies but seriously, make as many as you can!! If you know what you're doing weeks out then make the copies for it! I actually have started doing unit packets with most of my classes so that I can just print and make copies of those packets before school starts and then I don't have to worry about forgetting to make copies and then scrambling the day of. I also like to get my copies made BEFORE our first teacher contract days if possible because otherwise there is usually a long line in the copy room!
I hope that these tips are helpful and I wish you the best of luck this school year!!