From Kindergarten teacher Deb Cothern: Be prepared to be a little overwhelmed and know that you are not the only one. Throughout the building there are sooooo many creative ideas that it is easy to find yourself wandering around and feeling lost. Don't panic!! As long as your room is clean, organized and inviting you will make a "good" impression. Keep in mind the every square inch of your walls should NOT be covered. In fact if your walls are too busy it can make the students feel overwhelmed. Your walls will eventually be filled with the artifacts from mini-lessons that you create together with your students.
From 1st grade teacher Maria Mallon: Any time you can put into your classroom before the start of Pre-planning is worth its weight in gold. Try to get as much cleaned, set up, and organized (files, binders, office, etc.) before Pre-planning begins. In this way, when you are called into meetings or pulled away from your classroom, you won't be stressed thinking of all you have to do. Plan on spending full days plus before Pre-planning begins...
From 1st grade teacher, Debbie Harbour: For brand new teachers this is such an overwhelming time. Even for seasoned teachers, we still wonder how we will get everything done, and even now, don’t know where to start. Start with your furniture. Once you decide the layout of your classroom then all other things can fall into place. Each part of the day, prioritize what to do and try to finish the project before moving on (sometimes this is easier said than done). If you stay later in the evening there aren’t as many people there and you tend to get a lot done. Do as much computer work from home like getting papers for Orientation and stuff ready. More important ~ go by everyone’s room often to get ideas and look for things you may not know you need. Ask anyone ~ we share very well. When it comes to buying stuff, spend what you can, but don't overspend. Remember you can make a lot. Also, there will be lots of teacher kids around (especially teenagers who need service hours) and they will help you move, cut, or hang. Take advantage of them.
From 2nd grade teacher (new last year), Denise Evanko:
- Check the Sunday ads for coupons for AC Moore and Michaels to buy decorations and random items.
- Don't underestimate the Elision machine in the library for decorating your room. You can create decorations for free!
- Finally, put up a bulletin board titled "Getting to Know You" or something along those lines. On the yellow promotion cards, you will find a statement that last year's teacher made about each student. You can use these statements for your bulletin board. This should be up for Orientation.
From Cheryl Chascin: One tip I have for handling supplies as they come in is to print address labels during Pre-planning. I create labels for Reader's Journal, Writer's Journal, Dialogue Journal, Homework Folder, etc. (you can even use cute fonts that go with the theme). I also create a sheet of labels for each student with their name. Using these labels, students can easily identify their own supplies. We collect notebook paper and pencils (with student name labels attached) and store them in the cabinets, distributing them several times during the school year so that students always have a ready supply. Leftover labels can be saved for new students. Leftover name labels can be used as name tags for that first week or on field trips during the year.
From 5th Grade ELA teacher, Terri Lehane:
- Work on getting your room ready first.
- Don't make yourself crazy. Borrow ideas- Walk around the school and write down what you would like to add to your classroom- you will get other ideas just by looking at what other teachers have done.
- Once your room is complete, prepare for Orientation. Ask around to see what your grade level teachers are doing. Everyone is willing to share. Work smarter not harder. Ask them to e-mail their agenda or power point. Use those ideas and tweak to your class.
- Before Orientation, get to know your class. Doing your "Getting to Know You/ Welcome" board helps you to know the kids. Try to match faces to names. It always impresses parents when you know their child's name, or something about them at Orientation.
- Last, but not least, ask for help if you feel overwhelmed. We have all been there, and everyone is willing to help.
From Music teacher, Dee Dee Tamburrino: Get an early start each day of Pre-planning. The sheer numbers standing in line at the Ellison and laminating machines are overwhelming. Don't worry - we'll recognize that "deer in the headlights look" and will be there to help!