Surviving the first week at school is always a battle. Not only are our bodies having to get used to the rigorous schedule again, we must also prepare mentally to be in front of a class full of students for the whole day. After 24 first days, I have learned a few things to help ease us back into the groove.
1. During the pre-planning time, try not to stress about the fact that you are in meetings all the time. This is a given. KNOW and EXPECT it and plan your day accordingly. Every year I’ve gone back, there are complaints: “When do I get my classroom done if we are in meetings all the time?” – I finally came to the realization a few years ago that fretting about this doesn’t help. It only stresses us out more. So, go in a little earlier, stay a little later. ( no more than an hour- any more than that and you’ll exhaust yourself)
2. Don’t over decorate. We all want the cutest classroom , but realistically it is sometimes out of our realm of possibilities. There are those who are super at this and my hat goes off to those uber-creative and energetic teachers. You guys rock! However, I couldn’t measure myself against those who were experts in that area. I’m not that creative . What I decided to do a few summers ago was to research simple ways to make my classroom functional and last a long time. The most efficient time-saving idea I found was buying burlap for my bulletin board. It doesn’t tear, it looks good, and it matches anything. I put that up at the start of last school year and all I did this year was repair the boarder. BAM! Time saved! ( Summertime is Pinterest time!)
3. Be prepared for the first day by having easy-to-follow instructions for students as they enter the room. Even though I teach six different classes, I had assigned desks with the students’ names already on the desks. This reduces movement in the classroom and enables me to start on time and transition smoothly.
4. Pretests are your friend! We pretest the 2nd and 3rd day of class. This gives me an opportunity to complete a few tasks that I may not have finished during the ever-busy pre-planning week. Also, since students are in assigned seats with their names on the desk, I have an opportunity to learn their names as I distribute materials.
These are just a few lessons I’ve learned to help my first week run smoothly and I can end up with a little energy at the end of the day.