10 THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU SET UP YOUR CLASSROOM

Hey,  friends! I wrote this post on The Primary Chalkboard a while back and thought it was worth another post.

If it's summer vacation for you, enjoy! 
If not, live each day to the fullest and smile because it happened!

I'm here today to talk about getting your classroom ready for a 
makeover. 

Now, this is NOT a classroom reveal. 
Today is all about getting ready to set up your room!



Let me preface this by saying, 
I'm not trying to pressure anyone into decoration madness,
but I do believe a happy classroom is one that functions efficiently;
 and is well organized and attractive. 

This summer I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. 
Marie is a proponent of getting your house in order and keeping it in order. 
She suggests keeping only the items in your home that bring you joy and letting go of the rest.

I think we can apply the same principle to the classroom. 
Keep what sparks joy in you and let go of the rest.

ARE YOU READY TO SEE MY MESS? 
Here you go!
Want more? 
The good news is...it doesn't look that this anymore!
So, are you ready to get your classroom in order?

Great! But, remember this is not a one day job.
I like to think of it as ten days.
Already started school?
Take one task a week for the first ten weeks.


Day 1) Clean out your children's literature. 
Keep only the books that bring you and your kiddos joy!
I know. 
I LOVE children's books, too, but let's face it. 

Not all books are created equally. 
It's okay to let go of a book. 
DON'T THROW IT OUT. 
Pass it on to someone who will find joy in it.

You'll be amazed at how much room this gives you AND you'll know what you have when you need something.

Day 2) Clean out your Math manipulatives! 
You don't need 6 bins of pattern blocks or 48 Judy clocks.
Keep what you need and pass the rest on to someone else. 
It's okay.

Day 3) Clean out your art supplies. 
If you haven't used those foam Easter bunnies in the last 3 years, get rid of them. 
Pass on the joy to someone else! No hoarding!

Day 4) Clean out your office supplies. 
Look at each one. 
If no joy comes from having them and they serve no purpose, 
pass them on to someone else or donate them. 
It's a good feeling!

Day 5) Clean out board games, puzzles, and other activities. 
If you don't use them, someone else can. 
If Czechoslovakia is still on your globe...you get it.
Share your treasures.

Day 6) Do I dare say it...Clean out your paper. 
Oh, it's tough! I know it is. I've done it. But the feeling is just so great! 
If you haven't used it or it turns your fingers purple...you don't need it.
Recycle that paper!

Day 7) Decide how you will store supplies.
Once you decide what manipulatives and supplies you are going to keep, choose how you are going to store them. 
Then label your supplies. 
Labeling makes supplies easier to find for students and other adults who may visit. 

NOW-
The next two may not be popular, but I'm going with them.

Day 8) Get rid of your filing cabinet OR scale down to a smaller one.
The more room you have for stuff, the more stuff you'll acquire.
If there's nowhere to put the stuff, you won't be as likely to hold onto it.

Day 9) Get rid of your teacher desk OR scale down to a smaller one.
You can do it! I did and I had a lot of stuff in mine, too.
I never sat there (not even after school), and it took up a great deal of space. 
Now, that space is used by my first graders, and I don't miss my desk one bit!
I use an over-the-door shoe organizer for my office supplies. 
Space saver!

Day 10) Plan your classroom design.
Once the clutter is removed and you are ready to set up your room,
 go online and play around with a classroom set-up tool. 
You can design your whole room as many times as you like.
You'll need your room measurements for this.

Here are a few good ones:



This is the one I use. 


And, to show you what a difference organizing makes, 
the pic below was taken on Valentine's Day, 
months after I purged and organized. 
I cleaned out some more baskets and placed them on top of my bins, 
but other than that, the closet stayed pretty tidy.



If I can do it, you can do it!
Having a plan makes all the difference!!
Good luck!!



MEET THE TEACHER-What You Should Know!


The beginning of the school year brings with it SO MUCH TO DO! 

I thought I'd try to help save you some time and stress by offering up what I've learned from 26 years of Meet the Teacher!



Let's get started!
PREP
1) Get your room in some kind of order so you aren't stressed about its appearance.

2) Prepare and print parent forms and info, whatever you plan to give to parents.

3) If you give your students B2S bags, prepare those, too.

4) Prepare and set up easy to use stations for parents to work through. There's no need to give directions 20+ times.

5) Give yourself a break and get a mani/pedi or do something else that makes you feel great!

6) Choose an outfit that makes you feel good, too!


DURING
7) Greet parents and students at the door. Offer a handshake to parents AND if your students are shorter than you, bend or squat to greet them. Tell the students how excited you are to spend the year with them. Tell parents you are looking forward to working with their children and with them.

8) Direct parents to the parent stations and suggest students explore their room. 



9) Now, this is super important! 
Make sure you find out the following (especially for the first day):

 *Tranportation: am and pm
Get specific bus numbers or day care names.  You need to know this info before parents leave your room. Most schools have a street list of buses.

One of my students rides the bus home every day except Friday. 
On Friday, his grandparents fetch him. This is something I need to know.

*Meals: How will the child eat? Will he bring a box or purchase a tray from the cafeteria? It is imperative to find out this info before Day 1.

Some students may bring their lunches most days, but get a tray on pizza day or soup and sandwich day. I suggest a check in system in your classroom for children to use each day indicating their lunch preferences. 

*Allergies: Does the child have an allergy? If so, is there a plan in place? EpiPen, etc.
Now, I have a student whose younger brother has a peanut allergy, so Mom doesn't allow my student to eat peanuts. This is not life threatening to my student. It is not HIS allergy. If someone has a peanut near him, I won't panic. However, a few years ago, one of my students had a red ant allergy with an EpiPen in the office. THAT was an allergy to watch. 

*Medical Issues: Asthma, Epilepsy, Diabetes, etc. What's the plan and what are your responsibilities? Does the child take medication at school?

I've had students with all of these diseases. You have to know the plan here. 
Does the diabetic have an insulin pump? Can she check herself? What are you required to do? 
A few years ago, I had a diabetic in my class. She was able to check herself and wore an insulin pump. I texted Mom after she checked, and Mom let me know what numbers to punch into the pump (how much insulin to deliver). She also had an emergency kit on hand if her count was off. 

**If you have a student with a life threatening disease, it is imperative you meet with the parents or a medical professional to learn as much as you can about the disease, including your responsibilities.**

*Behavior Disorders: ADHD, ODD, OCD, etc. What's the plan? Does the child take medication? If so, at home or at school?

Oh, behavior! Some students will come to you with a behavior plan in place. Others will require a behavior plan. Beginning a behavior plan is tedious on educators, but in some cases, absolutely necessary. Learn the laws in your state. DO NOT tell a parent you think his child has ADHD. Find out how your school district handles these issues and move forward from there.

I keep a fidget bag for ADHD students who need something in their hands during whole group lessons-Wikki Stix, connecting cubes, pipe cleaners (I still call them that), etc. Fidget bags really work to help students focus and remain calm.


*Check-Out:
Are there any adults who ARE NOT allowed access to your student? This one can be tricky, but today there are many divorced families with court orders, and we must know and honor those orders. Find out if you have a case like this. Usually, parents will let you know, but not always. Check those cumulative folders.

*Siblings at School: Does your student have siblings at your school? 
Sometimes you may need to send home info/homework/etc with siblings, or if your student checks out early one day, you may want to let the siblings know. Especially younger siblings who may panic if they don't see their older brothers/sisters.

*Religious Preferences:
Now, I'm going to say this, and it may not be PC, but... it's truly up to the parents to let you know if they have religious objections. Most parents will make you aware. I've taught many students whose families were Jehovah's Witnesses. They were all very up front with me, and I appreciate that so much! I don't want to offend any family, but I also need to be aware of religious preferences so I don't offend. 

*Parent Objections:
Do you plan any activities in your classroom of which parents may object? Here are a few examples.

One of my students is not allowed to have temporary tattoos. So, when cheerleaders start selling promo items, this child doesn't need to purchase paw print tattoos. I need to know this. Get my point? 

I've taught students whose parents didn't want them to go sock-footed. 
Just be proactive. Let parents know your intentions before beginning an activity that may cause objections.



Whew! That's a lot of info, and I'm sure I left off something!

-AND-
If you need resources to help you with Meet the Teacher, 
I offer 33 different themed Meet the Teacher packs in my TpT store. 
Click the pic to take you there.