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Sunday, July 19, 2015

10 Tips for the first 20 minutes of school

1.  Be Prepared for Parents

Ahead of time, ask your principal the procedures and rules for parents in the classroom.  Prepare the dialog with parents who want to stick around or follow your class to the classroom.  Many schools have adopted very strict policies for visitors to the school.  You don’t want to break any rules but you also don’t want to alienate any “sticky” parents on the first day.  Practice and rehearse a friendly dialog for parents who don’t want to leave their child at the door!

2.  Be Prepared for Communication
Every school is different in how they deal with parent/teacher communication.  I give my parents my cell phone number and encourage them to text me.  I tell them right away they I am only guaranteed to check text message at lunch time on a school day and if I don’t reply and it is urgent... they better call the office.  Make sure you know ahead of time what your limits are regarding parent contact... chances are you will have one parent who needs to know ASAP on the first day!

3.  Slap on that Name Tag!
Even if you *think* you know all of the students’ names from seeing them in the hallway the year before, place a name tag on each child as they enter the room.  Your brain will be fried, discombobulated and going 100 different directions... no matter how sure you are that you remember ALL the names, you won’t.  Trust me...nametags!  By the way, no matter what cute font or clipart you use... these name tags will be off 90% of your kids by lunch.   Thankfully by then your head won’t be as discombobulated!  (Teacher Tip...Find the kid who still has the name tag nice and tidy at the end of the day.  Chances are  this is the kid who will be the “If you have any questions ask ______” in your sub plans this year. :)

4.  Greet EVERY Student
This is SUPER important.  Take the time to greet every student and ask them some sort of question.  If you don’t you will find that those shy, reserved kiddos totally got looked over on the first day.  Speaking from experience... I have had totally guilty moments at the end of the first day (maybe even first few DAYS...ugh) when I realized that I haven’t had a chance to speak one-on-one with my shyer, quieter students.  Let them know how happy you are to have them in your class...cause we all know we love those quiet ones!  

5.  Supply Containers
No matter how you plan to divvy up your students’ supplies, have clearly labeled containers ready to hold student supplies.  Parents send supplies in so many different ways.... no labels, every single pencil labeled and.... well... also not supplies at all.  Have a permeant marker ready to label supplies.  Place the supplies in the container as the students go through.  Then sort through the supplies later.  I always start my kiddos out with their box, a pack of crayons, and a pencil.

6.  Supplies are Evil
Be prepared to have kiddos that come with no supplies and kiddos who come with the bedazzled school box from h*ll.  I always have at least 4 boxes of supplies ready to go.  Yeah I know it is a total inconvenience and a financial drain, but this is a MAJOR cause of stress for kiddos on the first day.  Seeing their faces when they don’t have supplies or they are missing a supply is heartbreaking.  Believe me when I say that you will be totally thankful to have those extra supplies on hand! 

7.  Ready to Work!
At every seat place a few sheets of independent work to start the day.  This will keep kids busy while you take care of all of those first day of school tasks!  Make sure these are lower level activities... coloring is a great!  This is what I used this year.. .a simple coloring page from Hello Literacy!

8.  Oh, You Extra Kids!
Prepare, prepare, prepare... for those kiddos who show up on the first day!  Your list may say 20 but you may end up with 16 or 18... or 24.  You can always easily take extra seats and prepped materials away but adding them in at the last minute is a huge pain... especially if you are dealing with parents or crying, nervous kids.  Place a few extra seats and busy work around the room just in case! 

9.  Never Too Early
It’s never to early to plan for dismissal!  Make sure you know how each of your kiddos go home at the end of the first day.   Keep a chart with you as you greet students.  Note how they came to school, (what bus?) and ask parents how they will get home.   I always have atleast one kid each year who comes to school one way and gets to school a totally different way!   I use this form below to prepare.  Click HERE to download!  

10.  Yeah It Sounds Bad...
Keep notes on your first impressions.  Are they talkers, low, high, quiet, SUPER EXCITED?  I know it sounds bad to take so much stock on first impression but they do matter.  You don’t want all your lower kids at the same table... they may need some directions.  You don’t want all your quiet kids together... they may need some spunk to get them excited for the year.  Whatever observations you make... use them to guide how you rearrange the room!

What tips do you have for the first 20 minutes for school?  Leave them in the comments below!


  1. Hello! I love your How I Go Home page but when I clicked on it it took me to Hello Literacy for the coloring page. Is it anywhere else? Thank you so much!

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