getting ready for the first day of school

The past two weeks have whizzed by and I have been simply too exhausted to post.  I will try to be better from here on in, especially since I am starting to get into the groove.  (Waking up at 6 am again is quite painful, but I’ve responded by hurling myself out of bed to work out on the treadmill each morning, before I’m awake enough to talk myself out of it, and also by going to bed at 9:30 (!) each night.)

I am not fond of the first day of school.  You might even say I hate it.  I’m accustomed to a class that hums along like a well-oiled machine, and on the first day, things definitely do NOT hum along smoothly.  It occurs to me, each first day when I look at the children’s little faces, that they don’t know anything about my classroom, and it is now my job to teach them EVERYTHING.  Sort of a daunting task, but then I just dig in and get started.

Actually, I get started before the first day of school.  Here are some of the things I do to prepare:

  • I write out a class list of first names in alphabetical order.  I will use this constantly in the first week.  My class always lines up in alphabetical order.
  • I make nametags for the cubbies, and put them in alphabetical order, so that when we are lined up in the hall, the child whose name starts with A is in front of her cubby, and the child whose name starts with Z is in front of his cubby.
  • I make a different set of laminated nametags, and put velcro on the backs (okay, actually, I ask Miss Slinger to do this), to mark the spots on the carpet where I want each child to sit.  (We’ve got limited space for morning meeting, so I assign spots.  It works wonderfully — no one pushes or shoves to sit up front, and they all have their own space.)  I make a map of where each child should go, based on what little I know about them, and post it near my chair in the meeting area.)
  • I label hanging files in a basket so that each child has a “take-home file.”  This is where they put their finished work; I do this to avoid children going out to the hall to their backpacks, and problems arising because they are unsupervised.  Of course, the files are in ABC order, and this year, I used my new labeler to make them, so they look even neater than usual.
  • I make a class list on a chart I’ve copied from a “first days of school” teacher book, write the names on (in ABC order, of course!), and then make copies.  One copy goes on a clipboard that hangs from a hook near the door.  This is where all dismissal and bus info goes.  On the chart’s top axis I write out options for dismissal that include the after-school program, the preK bus, the special ed buses, or being picked up by a parent.  I use this as we head out each day so that every child goes to the right place.
  • I make colored nametags, four of each color.  Then I decide (based on the little info I have) which color group each child goes in, so that the groups will work well together.  On the first day of school the red group gets to go to the art center.  On the second day of school, I open a second center, and green gets to go there, and blue gets to go to art.  On the third day I open a third center, and so on and so forth until all the centers are opened and every group has been to every center.

I hope this is helpful to those of you who are getting ready for YOUR first days of school!

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5 thoughts on “getting ready for the first day of school

  1. I loved reading your list- this year I did many of the same things, only by day two, it was obvious that we were going to have to make a boy/girl pattern when lining up and when assigning closets instead of going alphabetically- thank goodness for velcro dots!!

    • Thanks, Michaele. I love looking at your photographs! I also wanted to let you know that I can’t post comments on your blog for some reason, but I visit often and love reading it.

  2. I cannot wait until my class is humming along. The beginning of the year is so bumpy too.

    My list is similar. We alphabetize by first name also. I don’t assign spots on the rug, but we have plenty of space. It’s a great idea, though, if I need to do it.

    Getting back into the swing of lesson planning, that’s what slows me down, LOL. Can’t I just go and play with the kids and the toys? 😉

  3. I alphabetize by first name, too! Everyone laughs at me. I’m glad to find there are others! Isn’t it so much easier? (Except when you have to copy data from someone else’s lists, and the kids are done by last name. That always takes longer. Still worth it!) I love it because I also give my (5th grade) kids numbers, so I can order a stack of papers and know whose is missing in less than two minutes. Love to see their faces when they get busted because I can organize so quickly. 😉

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