Sunday, August 11, 2013

First Day of School Tips & More!

I'm joining some of my bff's over at Freebie-licious for our last summer linky party. Seriously, where did the summer go? I've spent my ENTIRE summer on getting ready for next year & of course sharing my ideas with you. I have so many classroom pictures that I can't wait to show you! 

I pride myself on the classroom management routines & procedures that I have come up with. This my lovelies is vital to new teachers & even veteran teachers. We always pray that we will not get the class that puts us in the looney bin but we always don't get that lucky. 

I don't have children so the students are my children for 9 months. Some I would love to take home & some I would like to move to another class. We all have them. 

The first day is always scary for any teacher. We are just as nervous as our little nuggets & their parents will be. I always get scared that I am going to make someone cry, send them home on the wrong bus, lose them in the hallway or just plain lose them. This is natural friends even for the most experienced teacher.

Being prepared is VITAL! Trust me, I am the queen of procrastination & I swear I have ADD....I can't keep focused especially with internet connection! Even when I was at school getting my classroom ready this week I was aimlessly walking around from pile to pile & would forget what I was doing. It's either turning 40 is giving me short term memory loss or I in fact do have ADD. 

Regardless, if I am writing their names on 500 different things the night before school starts, I am prepared. I just hope nobody tries to open up my closets or looks in my storage closet because I will throw anything that is not put away in it's place in either one of my hiding spots. 

I do it to myself...really..I do. I like change & I like changing things up from year to year. As I learn how to do more things with technology & all the ideas I get from the fabulous network of teachers in blogland, it's inevitable that my classroom will change. 

I will give you some tips to keep you on track starting with the very first day of school. The first few days of school are THE MOST IMPORTANT time in your classroom & how it will operate for the entire year! I'm not kidding. 

THE SUCCESS OF YOUR ENTIRE SCHOOL YEAR CAN BE DETERMINED BY WHAT YOU DO ON THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL.  

I can't stress the importance of the first day of school ENOUGH. I blogged about classroom management tips in a previous linky party & I am going to tell you the most important points from this post. 

*First off you are not there to be their friend. Mistake #1 my first several years. 
*Effective teachers teach classroom procedures with consistency. 
*You are in control of your classroom, they are not & don't let them be...you are the "Alpha".
*Have positive expectations and be a good "manager" who designs lessons to achieve mastery. 
*Beg, Borrow, & Steal but stay away from the negative & cynical teachers that live to complain all day long. These are the ones that refuse to go along with change and resist anything new. 
*You will be expected to perform the same duties as a teacher who has been there before you were even born.
*Remember: STRUCTURE, CONSISTENCY & REPETITION. 
If you follow me on Pinterest you might want to look at my Back to School board here.  Another highly recommended board is my Classroom Management board here.
There is a saying you that you need to keep in mind on the first day. Especially when you are meeting parents for the first time. 
You are going to be a nervous wreck, but don't let it show to your students or the parents you are going to meet on that first day. Be prepared & keep calm. 

There are a ton of blogs with useful first day tips. Here are a few that stood out to me. 

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If you are a blog follower then you know I am all about taking pictures of my little nuggets starting from day 1 of school! I have seen a ton of pins pop up recently about taking photos using props which I did all last year. I will give you some ideas from myself & other bloggers as well. 
Here is a photo I took of my gorgeous niece. Great idea for you parents with little ones.

Then she insisted on having Bentley in the pic! She chose Bentley, not Olive or Java. He is always the favorite! My big boy! 

Finally a good shot!


I technically took this photo at our end of the year party BUT I would like to do this either on the first day or the first week & then take the same picture the last day of school. 

Again, I took this photo at the end of the year BUT this year I am doing something different. I am going to take this photo on the first day with them holding up "We are 1st Graders". At the end of the year I will take the exact photo, in the same spots & everything, but they will be holding up "We are 2nd Graders". I think seeing the difference will be really awesome! 

I am going to try & squeeze in this photo op opportunity for those that show up at open house. Too cute, right????

I made this sign to use on our first day of school. It's just a piece of wood made into a #1. I will put each student's name on it & snap their picture. I do have a separate classroom blog where I post all the photos I take of them throughout the year. If you want to see some of the photos I take check out this post here.

Here is a little freebie sign! Just click on the above pic to grab it for free!

 

Here is an example of a board that Jennifer from First Grade Blue Skies put together. Jennifer from Simply Kinder who created this gem has this pic posted on her FB page here.

My goal is to have a bulletin board outside of my classroom for the parents to take a pic of their child on the first day of school.  

Now back to other very important first day of school must haves! I am a firm believer in positive classroom management from the first day of school. My classroom runs on positivity all year long. You will see a difference in the most resistant students if you treat them with respect & reward them positively & not negatively. I have had parents use my system at home because they saw such a difference in their child with positive reinforcement.

 Yes, I have new fuzzy containers. It was time to hand down my old containers. I love the lids that these containers have. They are actually containers that store snacks from TJ Maxx. They looked like this before I did my magic. 

Here is a picture of my old fuzzy containers. 


 Here is a picture of the way my students store these magical fuzzies. They are no spill paint containers. Guess what????? Lakeshore Learning has offered to give one of my readers a class set!!!!!!


Here is a bag of fuzzies from Michael's. They also carry them online as well.





I entice my student on the first day of school with what they have to look forward to. They understand from the get go that they have to earn positive classroom rewards. They get all excited & I build the anticipation right away. I have updated my reward coupons by 175+ pages. I have included how I implement them with a multitude of tips on how to use them.





 I now offer a full page version of each coupon in set 1 and set 2! I had a ton of requests for a full page & really didn't see a need for them. But, as I was putting it together this summer, I finally saw a need. I am going to put all the coupon choices in binders. I have changed my system up a little bit by assigning amounts to each coupon. As I was developing this system, interviewing students & getting requests I thought some needed to be "worth" more. I have provided suggestions of what I think each coupon should be worth. You can be the judge if you want to switch things around.

I will store each set of coupons in these containers. I give a ton of tips & tricks to use with this system. This is something I would recommend to start at the beginning of the year BUT it definitely works if you wait. When I developed my first set, I did not implement it until I was having major problems & was ready to check myself in the nearest looney bin. 

I spent a lot of time compiling my ideas into this eBook this summer. I do get a ton of questions & this is the place where all those questions are answered. It is over 170+ pages long full of tips & tricks all in one spot. Boy, how I wish I had this when I started. It took a lot of years of experience & trial & error to come up with my tips.


 I have added characters that go with each of my rules. I had so much fun creating the characters & their names! Hey if I am not fortunate enough to name a child, I can name a character, right? I included activities to do with your students as you are introducing the rules. These are very basic rules that will apply to any classroom.



I did include classroom rule signs, hand signal signs & more as a bonus. They can't be found anywhere but this eBook!


I have used positive student recognition necklaces for years. They might night have been as pretty as they are now. My little nuggets just beam with excitement when they get the honor to wear one of these necklaces. They ONLY wear them for the day. They do return them at the end of the day. I would love to have an endless supply of color ink at school but I don't so they have to return it for the next student.

There are 140+ choices so I don't think you will have a student that does not get recognized.

Along with these ideas I also recommend implementing bucket filling into your classroom. My classroom is such an inviting environment where my students practice bucket filling daily. It's such a positive way to treat one another & instill kindness in our little ones. The idea is simple: We all carry around an invisible bucket. When our bucket is full, we feel special and good about ourselves. When our bucket is empty, we feel very sad & bad about ourselves. I encourage my students to fill eachother's buckets from day one. I start out by reading this book and discuss it using my bucket filler packet.



I will be back, hopefully this week to show you classroom pictures and more classroom management tips & ideas. My first day of school is tomorrow so off to work I go! Wish me luck! 
If you have a post about the first day of school link up with my friend Jodi from Fun in First.



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16 comments:

  1. I agree! Consistent, positivity is the key to success!! I only wish I had the extra cash to grab all those wonderful materials! I have them in my wish list cart right now though. Even a seasoned veteran (24 years)needs new ideas. Now that my daughters are teenagers, I don't get things for my treasure box like happy meal toys or birthday party treat bag toys! It does get expensive purchasing, even at a $ store. I love this idea and am going to give it a go! Come on payday!!!! :) Have a great year!

    rene'

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  2. You are always full of amazing ideas Mel! I definitely agree that the 1st day is soooo important for setting up the behaviors for the rest of the school year!

    ❀Jodi
    Fun In First

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  3. Great tips and ideas! Love your 2nd grade class picture and your ideas to change it up this year :)

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  4. Hey Mel, Thanks for the great post. Last year I wanted to implement the Bucket Fillers in my room, and then time got the best of me and it didn't happen. As luck would have it, last years sweethearts were naturally kind to each other. I will be implementing Bucket Fillers this year though, so thanks for all the great info!
    Tanya ☺
    First Grade is Fantabulous!

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing our Magic Dust Poem for the First Day of School Post. You have shared so many great ideas on here, I'll have to spend this week reading and pinning them all! I hope your readers will share their Back to School Tips on our Back to School Linky with KBN. Here's the link http://theeducatorsspinonit.blogspot.com/2013/08/back-to-school-crafts-and-gift-ideas.html Wishing you the best of luck as you start this new school year!

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  6. I love your comments about positive classroom management. You are so right about starting the year off with clear rules for the year. I had a get year last year because my kiddos knew what I expected from them. Have a great year!

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  7. Hope you've had a great first day of school!

    I'm looking at incorporating your coupon system into my classroom this year. I love the picture of the enticing display board!

    Do you have a list of what each coupon is worth? How did you decided which coupons were worth more?

    Love your blog.

    Thanks.

    Ashley

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    Replies
    1. Ashley all of that is included in the reward coupons. If you purchased it previously go & redownload it :) I would love to see pictures!

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  8. nice article, i love reading it..first day of school is pretty much exciting specially for all the kids..

    card tracking system

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  9. I just started using warm fuzzies in my Kindergarten classroom this past week and just wanted to let you know that you are a GENIUS! I have kids raising their hands to answer questions who have not said two words in the last month. My two ESL babies who barely speak any English are working so hard and trying so hard now to earn those fuzzies. I absolutely love it! All I have to do is stand next to my fuzzy container and the kids perk up and participate. I don't use your coupons...that may be a project for next year since I have so much junk left over in my treasure box from last year! I was wondering, though, have you gotten any feedback on the coupons in a K class? I'm just worried they may not "get it." Anyway, thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your brilliant fuzzy idea...I can tell it is really going to change how my class works for the better!
    Jennifer
    jen216@gmail.com

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  10. Love the fuzzes classroom management. I bought both packs of coupons and was wondering if you can share the pretty labels you have for "big fuzzies and "little fuzzies" containers?

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