It's Planning Week Already? Here are the five things I'm doing right now to ease into the new school year.
And just like that, we are once again saying goodbye to Summer. In the week before the kids show up on Monday, I'm focusing on five things to ease myself into a new school year so that on Monday, I can focus on feeling excited to see those smiling faces, instead of stressed about my to-do list.
This is my bullet journal. It helps me stay on top of things. I order a new Moleskine notebook every August and fill it in during the school year.
Mark Your Calendar
I always like to start off by taking a look at all of the calendar dates that might effect my program in any way, and jot down those dates in my own planner (I'm a bullet journal person). Here are the calendars I usually refer to:
District Academic Calendar
School Google Calendar
SCMEA Choral Division Events Calendar
After I jot down these dates, I meet with my fine arts department to go through the calendar together. We like to write down each other's events so we can stay on top of things, as well as schedule our school concerts, department field trips, and auditorium reservations.
Behold: the inner workings of my office cabinet.
What do you need for your classroom? I try to keep my list as simple as possible. Our super cool admin team surprised us on Monday with goodie bags filled with school supplies, so that took two of my most used items off of my list: sticky notes and expo markers. I currently have a running list on my board so that I can add to it as I notice things that I need.
Set-up Your Space How it Best Works for You
This takes some trial and error, but I've found that I like a 3 row set-up at the beginning of the year, with a transition to risers as we get closer to performances. But, just because I like 3 rows doesn't mean that will work for you in your classroom. When I first started in my position, I had seated platform risers coming out from the back wall of my room. I decided it didn't work well for me. Why? Because I like to move in and out of rows as I teach, and enjoy the greater flexibility that chairs on the floor has to offer. Things to consider when setting up your space:
How many kids will be in your room at any given time?
The size of your space
How you plan to use the room
Do you need your students to be closer or farther away from you for classroom management purposes?
Gather and Update Info for Parents and Students
Someone thought it would be funny to change the title of my dry erase classroom calendar last May.
You know those dates I just talked about? I copy all of them down in our chorus handbook every year and hand them out on the first day of school. If not the first day, then definitely sometime the first week. It's super important that parents and students are on the same page, and understand your expectations. I've been thinking about incorporating a monthly newsletter for parents this year to try and help keep them informed.
Map out a general plan for the first week (maybe even first two weeks) of school
It doesn't have to be complicated. But, it's best to have a few ideas ready to go. Spoiler alert: I don't even stress about starting music the first two weeks. If it happens, it happens...but I would prefer to focus on establishing positive behaviors and expectations. Trust me, if you take time on it now everything runs a lot smoother later. To see what I did with my students EVERY DAY of the first week of school last year, check out this post.
What do you do to get ready for a new school year? Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or on Facebook!