Whether you are 1 day into the school year or on day 22, whether you are a first year teacher or tenth year teacher – we sometimes are faced with this question, “Where do I even start?” Maybe the way you started the year wasn’t so great. Maybe you class is drastically different than what you expected. Maybe you just got placed 3 new students which has completely turned your classroom upside down. Here are my quick tips for what to do right now:
Start with Independent Work
When new teachers ask me – what should I make first? My go to answer is always – independent work. You will never ever regret having too many work tasks. But more importantly, these are easy, time consuming things that your students can start doing now. While your students are busy bees working away – you can start attending to the million other things you have to do. So hit up the dollar tree or your recycling bin and make a whole bunch of work tasks. Check out my Work Task Mega Pack, Advanced Work Task Mega Pack, and Communication Work Task Mega Pack for more ideas!
Start with Schedules
Start playing around with getting an excel schedule going so you know where kids are and where staff is. Get some basic schedules set up for your kids. Even if that schedule is basic work, play, work, play all morning until lunch – start there. You don’t need to jump in right away with a complicated schedule but having some type of a schedule in place will make everyone’s lives a little easier. So make a super basic and easy schedule. Don’t worry about differentiating schedule types yet. Put everyone on an easy picture schedule for now.
Don’t try to get everything going right away. If you try to simultaneously setup a fluency station, para-run station, circle time, and independent work all at once – it will likely never get done. Start small. Pick one area to focus on. Teach all your kids how to do the independent work system. Get a fluency station setup and really teach that. Go section by section. It may take all year – and that’s okay. It’s all about the baby steps. You’d rather have 3 awesome centers in your classroom than 6 halfway crappy ones.
When things aren’t working, we are often too stubborn to change it. Or maybe it’s not a stubbornness thing but a workload thing. Once we print that schedule or setup that furniture, it’s like we have signed a contract in blood. Just because it looks that way on day one – doesn’t mean it needs look that way on day forty five. Be willing to change things that aren’t working! You’d rather have a long few days of making those changes than a real long year trying to make something work that just isn’t!