That first few weeks of school is crazy. Especially in the primary grades. When I taught 3rd and 4th grade the kids were just a bit more independent and that helped out tremendously. Now the little ones? That is a different story.
It seemed like every planning and lunch period I was running around doing tons of little things. So, what can you do to minimize the crazy?
I have just a few tips to help you stay organized those first few crazy weeks.
I have blogged about my favorite little handy tool in this Bright Ideas post. This idea is especially perfect in the beginning of the school year when tons of papers are being returned. Simply staple a mini checklist to the front of a file folder. As students return the forms, check their names off and file the papers in the file folders (or envelope,as pictured).
You can either have one check list and file folder for each form, or you can use this form on ONE file folder and store all the forms inside. Simple paper clip the same forms together to stay organized.
Boom! Now all your back to school forms being returned from parents are organized!
I despise organizing school supplies the first day. I find that that is such a valuable time when kids are excited and nervous. We need to capitalize on their enthusiasm and soothe their fears by address the most important things first, such as where the bathroom is, when is lunch and snack, and making friends rather than labeling composition books.
To make this easier, I simply label a large grocery sack with each child’s name and put it under their seats. All of their smaller supplies such as pencils, crayons, notebooks, etc get placed in the bag until we have time to organize them on day 2 or even 3. Larger supplies, that will be community supplies, such as baggies, copier paper, and wipes, are placed in large, labeled bins around my classroom. I try to use the bins I will ACTUALLY store them in, so I can just put the bin in my cabinet, without having to remove the supplies and reorganizing them.
Do you have a clipboard? I did. I carried it EVERYWHERE. Especially the first week. I kept all kinds of important things such as a class list, a list or procedures I needed to teach, my first day or week lesson plans, and my TO DO list on that clipboard. That sucker was HUGE. I found that by having it in one place, rather than on lots of little post its scattered throughout the room and my desk kept me more accountable.
I also used a very slim monthly calendar. I liked to keep it on my clipboard the first few weeks because it seems like I was always adding dates and info to it.
Here are some of the other things I had on my clipboard:
FREE list of Procedures
First Day of School Lesson Plans
Transportation Home (in my Parent Forms packs on TpT). I have different themes for the forms to match your classroom theme. Don’t see your theme? Just ask!
Standards, Standards, and More Standards
Many schools require standards or student “I can” statements to be posted. Instead of writing these out each week, sit down and create these in one sitting. At one school , teachers are require to “unpack” the standard with students and then post it. These teachers take tablets of chart paper and write each standard (one tablet for ELA and another for math) at the top of one sheet of chart paper. When it is time to unpack the standard, they can tear of the chart paper, unpack the standard with students, and post it as needed.
Another option is these “I can” statements for students. I made them for second grade. I have both ELA and Math Available. I printed and laminated them. Then I hole punched them and put them on binder rings. I hung them on 3M hooks and then I could just flip though them easily!
Last Minute Read Alouds
Even when being totally organized and planned to the last minute, everything doesn’t always work out. Usually, I ran OUT of time instead of having extra time. However, I suggest having a bucket of books set aside for “just in case.”
These can be cute books that are perfect for the beginning of the year, but ARE not in your lesson plans. Keep them OUT of the classroom library, so they are fun and fresh for students to enjoy when you have a few spare minutes!
Do you have any other handy tips to keep organized at the beginning of the school year?
Mandy Gregory is a 2007 and 2012 Teacher of the Year. She has taught 4th, 3rd, and 2nd grade in both the general education and inclusion setting. She is the owner and creator of the Teaching Tips website (www.mandygregory.com) and has over 10 years of experience. She is married with two beautiful children.