Set up class jobs right away!

During the first week of school, I used to have to do a lot of cleaning after dismissal each day.  This is because I hadn’t set up a clear job system right away and train my students.  Then, I got smart and made it a priority.  Setting up a class jobs system gives students a sense of competence, community and cleanliness all at once.

Let me share with you a brilliant class job system that keeps the room spic-and-span.  (Many of the ideas came from my students—the best solutions always do.)

Before this brilliant system, I had what most teachers have: a rotation system for jobs.  The problem with this is that kids forget what their job is, and you constantly have to train students in a new job.  Plus, kids slack because they know you can’t keep up with who is supposed to do what.

My students and I developed a job system based on efficiency, not fun.  (It turned out to be fun anyway.)  We created an Excel spreadsheet listing all the jobs we thought we needed.  Then we began to assign jobs.  By the end of the year, everyone had at least three jobs.  Some kids had more.

You can download and view this sample Excel spreadsheet.  You can sort it by job to assign one job to several students.  You can sort it by student to see how many jobs each student has.  You might not recognize some of the jobs—delete them!  Feel free to add your own.  Please post your best ideas for jobs so we can all learn.

Each job earns income: five table points for doing it in the morning, and five table points for the afternoon.  (Jobs that don’t fit this schedule are assigned table points that seem fair.)

First thing in the morning and at the end of the day, the class becomes a beehive of activity as students complete their assigned jobs and mark their table points.  Our classroom always looks great!

I know it’s not feasible to assign all 90 jobs during the first week.  I usually identify my 30 most important jobs and assign those.  When the kids ask if they can switch jobs later in the year, I’ll tell them no.  I’ll cheer them up by saying that we can start assigning more jobs as people show how well they can do their assigned jobs.

Some kids are particularly good workers and may have more jobs than others.  I also let kids invent jobs and then do them.  The deal is that if you invent the job, you get first dibs on doing it.  (Aren’t elementary kids great?  They want to help in the classroom.)  The kids think of very clever ways to keep the classroom looking nice, and that makes it a better place to learn!


 

Back to school: watch out for kids that don’t have a lunch

lunchsandwichSome students are at risk of going hungry during the first days of the school year.  Kids who might qualify for a free or reduced price lunch may not be in the program yet, and they might not have anything to eat.  As a teacher, you can save the day by watching out for these kids.

Walk with your students to lunch during the first days of school.  Stay and watch them go through the lunch line and/or take a seat at the table.  You might notice a student who has neither a hot nor a cold lunch.  Or you might notice a student who gets to the front of the lunch line and is confused when asked for payment.  You can swoop in and save the day.

How you save the day depends on a lot of things.  In one situation, I just paid a student’s account for a few weeks until the school sorted out the situation.  (I did it on the quiet; the student and parent did not know.)  The student was an English Language Learner and the parent was new to the country.  It took a while to explain that there was a program in place and to enroll the child.

You might also be able to speak with the cafeteria manager, social worker or principal.  Someone is going to help make sure that the child gets a lunch.  You will be glad that you noticed the problem and were able to make a difference in a child’s daily life.


 

Back to School: ask parents to write a letter about their child

backpackandlunchbagConsider asking parents to write you a letter about their child.  A personal letter from the people who know your student best can inform your teaching for the entire school year.

Many letters will be straightforward: basic info about likes and dislikes, favorite subjects, etc.  However, some parents will be glad of the opportunity to share special concerns.  You might learn about family circumstances, health issues,  or previous experiences with school that affect how the student learns and behaves.

Be judicious about whether you request a letter from families.  At some schools, parents would welcome the chance to communicate in writing.  At others, parents may feel like you are giving them a writing assessment.  Another possible issue is a language barrier–but you never know.  You might find that some parents are happy to write you a letter in their native language.  Chances are that someone in the district can translate for you–or you can get a rough idea with a Google translation.

Back to school night is a good time to request the letter, but it’s not the only opportunity.  Your school might have an Open House a few weeks into the school year.  By that time, the rush is past and everyone, including you, has more time to devote to the assignment.

A clear complement to the letter-from-a-parent is the letter-from-a-student.  An open-ended letter about the student makes a good writing assessment and informative piece for your files.

Posted in Back to School,Classroom Management,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Aug 15, 2016

 

Class Antics: Best Back to School Advice EVER!

A National Board Certified Teacher shares tips, tricks and time-tested advice to help you get ready for back to school.

This Best EVER! collection is a must for first year teachers, but veteran teachers will enjoy it, too. I sincerely hope that these tips ease your worries as you face back-to-school stresses.

How to Set Up Your Classroom

Part One: Facing an Empty Room: this will help you get started on that terrifying first day you see your new classroom.

Part Two: Cover the Bulletin Boards: there’s more to it than you think, and this post will help you slap something respectable up so you can get back to work on more important things.

Part Three: Decorate the Walls: whether you have supplies or have to beg, borrow or steal (just kidding!), this post will help you cover those institutional cinderblock walls.

Part Four: Basic Management Systems: from managing your pencil supply to organizing work turn-in, this post will help you get the bare-bones systems in place.

Meet the Teacher Night/Open House

How to Organize Supplies from Meet the Teacher Night: if you can only read one post, make it this one! Learn how to save HOURS and HOURS by setting up your classroom so families can organize the back-to-school supplies.

Meet the Teacher Night: A Guide for Families: learn how to get the most out of back to school night.

Have kids sort the community school supplies: a fun time-sponge (soaks up time) activity that helps you organize the classroom and build community! A great way to deal with those Meet the Teacher Night supplies.

The First Day of School

A Sample First Day of School Letter Home: feel free to use the whole thing if you like! This sample letter will save you time so you can get back to setting up your classroom and planning a fun first day.

How to plan for the first day of school: the first day of school is a day like no other. Learn how to plan well so that the rest of your year goes smoothly.

The New Teacher’s Complete Sourcebook: this Scholastic Professional Book is very, very helpful to first-year teachers. You will especially like the minute-by-minute schedule for the first day of school. There is a unique schedule for each grade, K-4. I was incredibly glad to have this book!

Give kids a snack on the first day of school: this tip helps you break the ice, practice birthday treat protocol and ingratiate yourself with your students!

Don’t forget to TEACH on the first day of school: here is some good advice on how to inject some academics into the first day of school. Students, parents and administrators will appreciate your effort!

Throw Down a Challenge the First Week of School: coordinating nicely with Don’t Forget to TEACH on the First Day of School, this post tells you how to give your students a motivating challenge that builds academic skills, confidence and community.

A typical elementary school day schedule: this is really helpful for first year teachers. Get a sense of how a typical day is scheduled. Also helpful for parents who want a sense of what their child does at school.

Greeting Visitors Procedure: teach your students this charming greeting that also functions as a “principal’s here” alarm bell. Practicing this on the first day of school is super fun and can soak up half an hour, easy!

Set up class jobs right away! Years of experience tells me this is the BEST way to do classroom jobs. It’s really easy for you, and setting up the jobs on the first day gets kids into the swing of things. This activity soaks up half an hour or more!

First Week of School: Learn the Names Challenge: are you worried about learning all your students’ names by the end of the first week? Well, if you use this tip, the kids REALLY won’t care whether you know their names or not! They’ll be rooting for you to make a few mistakes!

Posted in Back to School,Classroom Management,Classroom setup by Corey Green @ Aug 24, 2012

 

How to set up a classroom / Classroom arrangements Part 4

Part Four: Basic Management Systems

They don’t prepare you for this in college: the moment you see the bare-bones, institutional box that you are expected to transform into an inviting classroom…in two or three days.  It’s a daunting task for veteran and new teachers alike, and it has to be redone every year.

Through blood, sweat and tears, you have created a decent learning environment out of a previously forbidding and forlorn empty cinderblock box.

Now it’s time to set up a few classroom management systems.

A Pencil System

Decide on a good place for your pencil sharpener. Decide on a system for dealing with classroom pencils. I recommend the two-cup system: dull and sharp. New teachers, dealing with pencils is actually pretty complicated, so here are several posts to help you out!

Pencils, Part One: Managing Your Pencil Supply
Pencils, Part Two: Some Advice About Pencil Sharpening
Pencils, Part Three: The Pencil Drive

Turn In Work System

If you can afford it, buy Literature Organizers (their proper name!) at a teaching store or office supply store. Use pieces of index card to number the boxes 1-30 or so. On or before the first day of school, assign numbers to your students. They can turn everything in to these numbered boxes.

You will really, really appreciate having this system in place for receiving all the back-to-school forms.

If you can’t afford literature organizers, there is still hope. One idea is to tape down plain old manila file folders to the countertop in a long line. The student work slides into their numbered folder.

Another idea is to use existing cubbies or whatever your school provided for backpacks. On the first day, at least, you might rather receive paperwork in these cubbies and have kids hang their backpacks on their chairs. Trust me, you will like having all the back-to-school forms alphabetized!

Or you can just have a few paper trays out, like one for each subject. Then at least student work is organized by subject. You can enter these grades in the gradebook haphazardly, arrange papers in number order before you enter grades, or if you teach older grades, ask a student to put the papers in number order for you.

Lunch Count/Attendance System

A lot of schools have 2-4 choices for lunch each day, plus sack lunch from home. Many teachers set up a magnet system with numbered magnets for each student. Each morning, the kids put their magnet under their lunch choice. Whoever’s left either forgot to move their magnet or is absent.

Set this system up in a corner of your whiteboard, or you can use the side of a metal desk or filing cabinet. Here is an example of a lunch count system with magnets.

Organize your Bookshelves

My favorite way to organize bookshelves is with clear plastic shoe box bins. I sort the books by reading level, but earlier in my career I just sorted them by genre. Kids will keep the books very nicely in these shoe box bins. If you just put the books on the shelf, you will have a mess before long. Of course, it will look okay for Open House, so you might just want to set the books out and buy some bins next week!

VERY IMPORTANT: DO NOT LABEL YOUR BINS WITH MARKER! WRITE ON A NOTE CARD AND TAPE IT INSIDE THE BIN. You will repurpose your bins so many times; don’t tie yourself down with permanent marker labels!

Organize School Supplies

I organize school supplies in plastic shoe box bins. My classroom comes with open shelving, which I covered with plastic blinds from Lowe’s, about $15-20. This keeps the classroom looking serene.

Try to avoid organizing with cardboard boxes of any type. They look tacky and smell funny after a while, particularly if your school is humid.

Extra Credit: Set up for the influx of supplies that students will bring on Meet the Teacher Night. You REALLY, REALLY want to make time for this! Read my blog post on how to do it.

Part One: facing an empty room
Part Two: Cover the Bulletin Boards
Part Three: Decorate the Walls
Part Four: Basic Management Systems (this post)

Posted in Back to School,Classroom Management,Classroom setup by Corey Green @ Aug 17, 2012

 

How to set up a classroom / Classroom arrangements Part 3

Part Three: Decorate the Walls

They don’t prepare you for this in college: the moment you see the bare-bones, institutional box that you are expected to transform into an inviting classroom…in two or three days.  It’s a daunting task for veteran and new teachers alike, and it has to be redone every year.

Once you have arranged the furniture and covered your bulletin boards, put a little time into decorating the walls of your classroom. You will need some posters or wall decorations.

There are many sources:

Shop for educational and motivational posters you find at teaching stores, office supply stores, and DOLLAR STORES, which are often a lot nearer to you at any given time than a teaching store.

Ask veteran teachers in your school if they have extras to give or lend you. Most teachers have a lot and are willing to share!

Required posters, like for curriculum programs, character education programs, whatever the school gives you and insists you display.

I prefer relaxing and beautiful artwork to school posters. I have assembled cool artwork from around my house, DOLLAR STORES, cut-up calendars, discount stores like Ross and TJ Maxx, and poster sales. You might also find that your parents or relatives have canvasses or framed prints that could look good in your classroom.

Ideas for if you have no posters:

A quick homemade poster of class rules. Principals like to see this display. Don’t make your rules too complicated! It’s just a poster; it’s not magic and it won’t inspire kids to behave like little angels. Just write a few be-safe-and-respectful type rules and get on with it.

If you can’t get your hands on decent posters before school starts, fill the walls with grids of construction paper ready to display student work.

Using black marker on construction paper, write BIG and use several pieces of paper to illustrate basic educational concepts. Six traits of writing, vowel sounds, mathematical operations, whatever. Just keep these really bold and graphic.

Use pieces of construction paper or butcher paper to create blank graphic organizers or thinking maps. Put clothespins on each piece of paper so you can clip things to the map during the year. Here is a simple example.

You can hot glue clothespins to the wall, then clip posters or construction paper to them. You can put student work out as soon as the kids arrive. Click here for a good example.

How to hang your pictures and posters:

If you are lucky, your classroom’s walls are easy to work with. You can hang things up with pushpins and staples.

More likely, you have a classroom lined with cinder block walls. It is really hard to hang things on them, but not impossible. Here are some ways to affix your posters and decorations:

Hot glue holds the posters really well, but will come off the wall when you are ready. With hot glue you have to work quickly, so an extension cord can let you dot the glue as you hang. A quick Internet survey showed that hot glue is the hands-down favorite for hanging things on cinderblock walls. Get a glue gun Wal-Mart, Target, or a crafts store.

Adhesive products: I like the 3-M mounting strips and sticky stuff. Get it at Wal-Mart or similar stores.

Adhesive products with Velcro: Get these at Wal-Mart or similar stores. You get a sheet of squares with velcro. Arrange them the way you want on your poster and put the Velcro that’s gonig on the wall right on the Velcro on your poster. (You do not want to mess with trying to line things up!) This will hold a while, but not as long as adhesive products without Velcro or hot glue.

Framed pictures are nice because you can drill into the wall, set up a hook, and hang them. (Confession: I don’t know how to do this; my dad always did it for me. But here are some online directions.)

Part One: facing an empty room
Part Two: Cover the Bulletin Boards
Part Three: Decorate the Walls (this post)
Part Four: Basic Management Systems

Posted in Back to School,Classroom Management,Classroom setup by Corey Green @ Aug 10, 2012

 

How to set up a classroom / Classroom arrangements Part 2

Part Two: Cover the Bulletin Boards

They don’t prepare you for this in college: the moment you see the bare-bones, institutional box that you are expected to transform into an inviting classroom…in two or three days.  It’s a daunting task for veteran and new teachers alike, and it has to be redone every year.

Most classrooms have at least one bulletin board in the room and one in the hallway.  Set up your bulletin boards before you worry about other wall decorations.  Your boards don’t need displays on them for Open House, but it helps if they are at least outfitted with butcher paper and a bulletin board border.

Get the butcher paper from the school’s supply and use it to cover your bulletin boards.  You can skip this step if the bulletin board looks good without butcher paper.  Don’t discount the nice clean effect of plain white bulletin board paper.  It doesn’t fade during the year and it looks good with a construction paper grid for displaying student work.  (see below.)

You will want to use bulletin board border.  This can be found at teaching stores, office supply stores, and sometimes at dollar stores.  If you are in a hurry, just ask a veteran teacher for bulletin board border.  Most of them have extensive collections housed in special bulletin board border storage boxes.

You can get by without bulletin board border if you do a really nice clean job of setting up the butcher paper.  In my experience, first year teachers have not yet acquired this skill.  Cover your mistakes with border.

You can put displays on the bulletin boards, but this might not be a priority if you are facing an empty room with nothing on the walls.  Many teachers put the students’ names on interesting shapes for the bulletin board in the hall, but this has to be replaced early in the year.

I like to create a grid of construction paper for displaying student work.  I arrange construction paper in a pleasing pattern on the bulletin board.  Then, during the year, I attach student work with a thumbtack.  The bulletin board can stay up all year while the display changes.  This grid is really easy to do and probably your best bet as a beginner.

You can have students create bulletin board displays on the first day or week of school.  Have the kids decorate a 4 x 6 index card, a piece of paper, a shape like a paper plate, whatever.  You can have the kids just do pictures, or you can add a writing sample or getting-to-know you aspect.  This work can become the first thing featured on your bulletin board.

Later, when you are not so overwhelmed, cover the bulletin board with fabric rather than butcher paper.  Thisbackground can last a school year or more.  I recommend dollar-a-yard fabric; don’t go much more expensive than that.  I usually find fabric at Wal-Mart, but crafts stores also have good selections.  A bulletin board fabric should be either solid color or with a really small print.  It’s nice if your solid-color fabric can have some texture to it, but it’s not necessary.  It is very important that you IRON the bulletin board fabric before you staple it to the board.  This makes all the difference in the world!  No amount of wrinkle spray or stretching will give you the nice clean look of ironing.

First year teachers: just cover the bulletin boards with butcher paper, cover mistakes with a border and move on.  You have a lot to do!

Part One: facing an empty room
Part Two: Cover the Bulletin Boards (this post)
Part Three: Decorate the Walls
Part Four: Basic Management Systems

P.S. In the photos above, I covered a bulletin board with fabric, used monkey decorations from a bulletin board kit, and stapled construction paper in a grid.  Then, as my class achieved learning goals, I had them all sign a paper relating to the goal and we used a push pin to display it on the bulletin board.

Posted in Back to School,Classroom Management,Classroom setup by Corey Green @ Aug 3, 2012

 

How to set up a classroom / Classroom arrangements Part 1

Part One: Facing an Empty Room

They don’t prepare you for this in college: the moment you see the bare-bones, institutional box that you are expected to transform into an inviting classroom…in two or three days.

Oh, and the district is “supporting” you with new-teacher induction programs during those same days, so you’ll be attending lots of meetings.

Setting up the classroom will have to be done during evenings and on the weekend—if you have a weekend between the time you get hired and the first day of school.  Here are some tips for first year teachers and transferred teachers.

Step One: Assess the situation.  Request the room be cleaned if it isn’t already.  Request furniture you may need.  For example, do you have enough student desks?  Chairs? Do you have a table for reading groups?  Enough bookshelves?  A teacher desk?

Are the student desks all the same height, or are they a mish-mash?  You can ask for school custodial staff to adjust the desks for you.  They should be able to help.  If necessary, you can adjust them all yourself—or, to get started, put like-sized desks together in tables.

Step Two: Clear the room.  Often, the teacher before you has left weird little things, claiming they might be “useful.”  Chances are, you just don’t need this excess stuff.  I’m talking about those student worksheet packets that MIGHT be useful in November, if you can even remember where you put them, knick knacks, 30 year old posters, strange office desk accessories.

Just clear that junk out.  Put it in the hallway, in trash cans if you can, but it’s not necessary.  The custodians will clear it away.

Step Three: Arrange the furniture and desks.  Map this out on the whiteboard if you can, and use a measuring tape on the room and furniture so you get a rough idea of if your plan will work.  You don’t want to shove desks around, then find out there wasn’t room for your design.

Nowadays, it is more common to make tables than to arrange the desks in rows.  I find that tables of four to six desks are good, and so are long tables of desks down each side of the room.  Whatever arrangement you decide, test it for livability.  Do student chairs back into each other?  Is a student sitting right in the flow of traffic to cubbies or the bookshelf?

Visit ClassroomDeskArrangement.com for ideas on setting up desks.  Don’t get too fancy your first year.  Take a look at the picture here—my all-time favorite desk arrangement that I used for years.  It’s a variation on a nice horseshoe shape, but the horseshoe is made from tables of four.

Your teacher desk DOES NOT need prominent placement.  You won’t be able to work at your desk during the school day because you will be too busy with students.  Arrange the important things, like the reading group table and bookshelves, and put the desk in as unobtrusive a spot as you can.  Up against the wall is often a good spot.  That way, more of the classroom is available for the kids.

Procuring furniture, clearing the room and setting up desks could take you a full day…or two.  Enlist helpers, if you can.  Regularly assess your progress, and adjust if need be.  Your goal must be to have the classroom ready for students and you must be ready to teach your students.  Keep that in mind and don’t be tempted to stray into projects that don’t require immediate attention.

Part One: facing an empty room (this post)
Part Two: Cover the Bulletin Boards
Part Three: Decorate the Walls
Part Four: Basic Management Systems

Posted in Back to School,Classroom Management,Classroom setup by Corey Green @ Jul 27, 2012

 

The No-Name Form

No-Name papers are a real pain.  Different teachers have different ways of dealing with them.

Some teachers automatically hand No-Name papers back, often in the form of a “No-Name Box” that students are supposed to check if their work wasn’t graded.  I recommend against this because savvy but lazy students like to fish through the No-Name papers and turn them in as their own work.  Plus, often the teacher actually does know who created the paper, so the exercise just draws out the processing time for the paper and creates extra work for the teacher.

I created the No-Name Form as my answer to No-Names.  I can almost always identify No-Name papers because my student number* system is so good.  My kids turn in their work to numbered boxes, so I always have everything in order, nice and easy to input in the grade book.   If I have a No-Name between papers 18 and 20, I can bet it belongs to student 19.  I just write the student’s name on the paper, stick a No-Name Form on his desk, and make a note so I remember to collect the No-Name form.

You can print my No-Name form, which has students practice writing their name and number correctly.  Just assign these for every No-Name paper.  I find that this fixes mild cases of the No Names and might eventually reform No-Name kids.

The big surprise was that students found the No-Name paper to be fun!  It’s supposed to be a reminder, but the kids just love it.  They do No-Name forms just for fun.  Sometimes they create cool zigzag patterns on the form by indenting their name a little more on each successive line.

Another surprise was that some kids offer to help a student who is way behind on his No-Name Forms.  If the kids are smart enough and generous enough to think of this, I allow it to happen (with my knowledge and consent.)  I think it’s community building.  My parents taught me that in the Air Force, this type of helping-with-the-punishment was one of the highest levels of teamwork.  I always tell the No-Name offender to make sure and do something nice for the helper.

If you decide to use the No-Name form, print it on scratch paper if you can.  No need to use good paper on such a mundane task!

*I assign student numbers the first day of school and teach my class the “Name and Number Song.”

Posted in Back to School,Classroom Management,FREE Worksheets by Corey Green @ Sep 29, 2011

 

Greeting Visitors Procedure

When I was a new teacher, I looked so young that I blended in with the kids.  People would stop by my room and suffer a moment of panic thinking there was no teacher present.

I solved this problem with the Visitor Procedure.  I teach it to my students on the first day of school.

When a visitor enters the room, the first person who notices says “Class, we have a visitor!”

The whole class says in unison, “Hi!  We’re glad you’re here!”

Then the students are supposed to be dead silent while the visitor says his piece.

When the visitor leaves, someone (usually me) says, “Class, our visitor is leaving!”

The whole class says in unison, “Bye!  We’re glad you came!”

We practice this by sending volunteers into the hall to enter and exit as visitors.  It takes about five tries of each phrase to really get it down, but the exercise is well worth the effort.

Our visitor procedure is one of the hallmarks of my class.  It’s a really fun way to build community and greet people at the same time.

Plus, it’s a nice little alert system so you know someone has come into your classroom.  You’ll see!

Posted in Back to School,Classroom Management by Corey Green @ Sep 20, 2011

 

Throw Down a Challenge the First Week of School

The first week of school can be a letdown.  The kids so looked forward to it, but the reality is they’re mostly just learning procedure and playing getting-to-know-you games with same kids they’ve been stuck placed with for years.

I highly recommend that you actively teach on the first day of school.  I already wrote a blog entry about that, so here is a refinement on the concept.

Throw Down a Challenge!

Make it voluntary, and make it a stretch—but not too big of a stretch.  You want something in the class’s Zone of Proximal Development.  (The teacher word for the level that’s within reach but a little bit of a stretch.)

Memorizing a short poem, learning the names of the continents, mastering a times table, writing a story or essay, finishing a back-to-school review packet—these are just a few example of possible challenges.

You might consider discussing your challenge with teachers in the grade level below you to see if it is appropriate.

Give the students about 5 school days to do the challenge.  You can have some sort of small reward, or you can just have students who achieve the goal write their names on the board or put their names on a bulletin board.  Your call.

I like to give whole-class incentives for 100% attainment of a goal, but I wouldn’t do that with the first challenge.  You don’t know your students well enough, and the challenge might be way beyond some of them.

I hope you find that throwing down a challenge is a fun and educational experience for your class.

Posted in Back to School,Classroom Management by Corey Green @ Sep 9, 2011

 

First Week of School: Learn the Names Challenge

This tip is a great way to break the ice with your new class.

Tell your students that you will do something special for them if you don’t know all of their first and last names by the end of the first week of school (or first half-week, if you start midweek).  I like to promise treats: simple snacks, for example, that I can give to my students at snack time.

Suddenly, the kids don’t care so much when you mix them up!

Practicing their names is a good activity to kill time and help with getting-to-know-you.  Perhaps you finish teaching your going-to-lunch procedure, but there are still five minutes until lunch.  You can go around the room and try to say the names, or you can have the kids introduce themselves again.

Be ready with whatever you promised on Challenge Day.  You’re giving it to the students regardless—they just don’t know that yet.

You can’t let them down after promising a treat!  Besides, if you give them the treat even after saying everyone’s name correctly, you come off as generous and cool.

At Challenge Time, close your eyes and have the kids move around so they are sitting in different desks.  Now their name tags won’t help you, and the challenge is much harder because you used location as a way to fix names in your memory.

Don’t worry if you mess up.  The kids win either way!

Wasn’t that fun?

Posted in Back to School,Classroom Management,Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Sep 1, 2011

 

How to Organize Supplies from Meet the Teacher Night

At many schools, families bring items from the school supplies list to Meet the Teacher Night.  Nowadays, most supplies are collected by the teacher to be used by the whole class.

I highly recommend that you implement a system for dealing with these goods.  If you don’t, you will spend hours dealing with school supplies.

Cubbies are ideal.  You can make quick labels saying things like “paper,” “Kleenex” or “pencils” and families will sort the supplies for you.  The kids really enjoy it, and parents are happy to help.  Set aside ample room for bulky supplies like tissue, reams of copy paper, and Clorox wipes.

If you don’t have cubbies, designate bins, countertops, bookshelves, student desks, tables, or just patches on the floor for various supplies.  You’ll be glad that the supplies are at least sorted.

You can put the supplies away before school starts—or not.  If school starts the day after Meet the Teacher Night, don’t deal with the supplies after families leave.  Just go home and get some sleep!  The kids can help you put them away.  It’s a fun team-building activity.  Really.

Veteran teachers: showing new teachers how to do this is probably the number one thing you can do to help short of assisting in actual classroom setup.  Last year I showed our new kindergarten teachers how to do this, and they all said I saved them hours.


 

Meet the Teacher Night: A Guide for Families

Many schools hold Meet the Teacher Night a day or two before school starts.  If your school offers this, be sure to attend.  The event can allay many back-to-school jitters for parents and for students.

Meet the Teacher Night is just that—a chance to meet the teacher.  Don’t plan on having a parent-teacher conference of any length.  The classroom will be full of other families and the teacher’s attention is divided.

If you have an important message that the teacher must know on Day 1, give it in two forms: oral and written.  Introduce yourself and your child, then give your important message.  Stress that it’s important.  It’s also a good idea to leave a short note on your child’s desk, or the teacher’s desk.  Only do this for something truly critical, like a health issue.

Don’t get too worked up about who is or isn’t in your child’s new class.  These things tend to work out.  One exception is if your child is placed with a student who bullied him or her last year.  Alert the teacher in private, but you really need to talk with the principal that night, and tell the teacher you are doing so.

Some schools have a tradition of families bringing in school supplies for Meet the Teacher Night.  If so, be sure to participate because you can lighten your child’s load on the first day of school.

Posted in Back to School by Corey Green @ Aug 25, 2011

 

Back to School Catch-up for Families: Write Something!

Assessments abound at back to school time, and one test your child will face is the “Writing Sample.” Shortly after spending a summer goofing off, your child will be tasked with spending several hours (over a few days) to write an essay.

It’s pretty obvious to most teachers that many students never even hold a pencil during summer break. Imagine your child dealing with that on top of the stress of having to write an essay. The results aren’t pretty.

You can help your child by encouraging him to write something—even a paragraph—before school starts. It will make a difference. By the way, this is a good time to have the “what is a paragraph?” talk with your child. I can’t tell you how many children ask me that question during the writing sample. It’s a good thing that last year’s teacher can’t hear them.

Note: I don’t want to cause stress to you and your child about these back-to-school assessments. I merely want to show you how to help your child brush up skills so her work reflects their actual ability, not the results of summer slide.

Posted in Back to School,Tips for Parents,Writing by Corey Green @ Aug 19, 2011