Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Back to School Ideas

It's almost time for school to start here in North Carolina. I know some school systems across the country have already started while others still have a ways to go. For me, I have 3 weeks of summer left before I head back to school to start working on my classroom. 

This will be my 16th year teaching, but it will be a completely new challenge for me. For the first time, I will be teaching a combination class of 1st and 2nd graders. I have taught both these grades before, but never together. I have already started planning. I am the type of person that likes to have my ducks in a row ahead of time. I will be collaborating with two other teachers and I think between the three of us we will do awesome!

As I was going through my photos I came across some that I thought could be helpful to some newer teachers. When I first started out, I did not have a mentor to help guide me. The school system I worked for at that time did not have a mentor program in place. I would have loved to have had an experienced teacher to help me through those first years. Instead, I relied on my coworkers who were also pretty inexperienced themselves. I learned and grew a lot those years and love those group of ladies I worked with. They were awesome!

My first principal's name was Ms. Mack and she must of thought I was crazy! I would walk around with my plan book like it was part of me. She told me it was ok to put it down and teach. She was so understanding, encouraging, and helpful. I was so afraid of forgetting, but she was right! I didn't forget. I put it on my desk. I walked away and I taught. She was great! Do you believe she also was responsible for getting me to try a sub sandwich from Subway and a chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A? Yep! I was a pickier eater back then, but I'm not now thanks to Ms. Mack!

So here are my back to school tips! These are not all that I could possibly list. Just some I wanted to share.

This one has helped me...especially in recent years. I tend to take things so personally, but it is really important to remember that other people's problems are not yours. You may work at a school that is very professional or one with a lot of drama. If there is a lot of drama then say this to yourself. You will be much happier I promise you!

This mailbox system was one of the best purchases I ever made! I decided to buy the wooden one and it has held up for many years. I put numbers on each one and assign numbers to the children. On the side is a master list with the kids names and numbers in case anyone needs it. The children put their work in their mailbox. If it is something I have collected their number is right next to their name so I can easily file their paper later. Every classroom needs a system and this system has worked great!

I purchased cookie sheets from the Dollar Store and some chalkboard paint. Add chalk and an old rag and you are all set! I like using these in small groups to practice spelling or math facts. The kids enjoy them and it's a change of pace from the normal paper and pencil. 

When I first started teaching I looked for ways to be frugal. My mother and I saved all the Cool Whip and butter containers. I would use them for games, math manipulatives, painting, etc... A great use for these containers and it taught the kids about recycling too!

My very good friend, Marjorie, made her own seats out of crates! She used a piece of wood with some batting and colorful fabric. ADORABLE! The kinders at our school love them!

I finally found a great one and I am so pleased!!!!

I have two things to say about this picture.
1) I found these little pocket charts at the dollar store. Always keep you eye out for good deals. You never know when you will find something you can use that is a great price!
2) Utilize your space. I currently teach in a small classroom. That is a picture of my desk. It's magnetic so I hung the pocket chart with magnets right there plain and simple! This is my word work center. Works great! The side of a file cabinet will do the same thing. So again, utilize your space.

My spelling homework stays the same week to week, only the words change. You know how you can buy sticky address labels that will go through your printer? Well, you can also buy full sheets that have a sticky back that go through your printer. I print their homework, 4 to a sheet, print it, and cut. We stick it right in their spelling notebooks. Then they don't have to remember what Monday's spelling homework is, etc... They just have to get their new words each week.

These wonderful little colored discs were a Dollar Store find. They sell them at craft stores too, but the Dollar store has them cheaper. They are great for highlighting numbers or words. The kids also like to count them or use them for game pieces. 

These are just a few back to school ideas to help you get started. Hope they help!

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