Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Preparing your classroom you got the job! Congratulations! Teaching Kindergarten is such a rewarding endeavor, but it takes loads of preparation! The key to being a successful teacher at any grade level is being prepared. Speaking from a true procrastinator, I know what I'm talking about! I have always prided myself on working well under pressure. In high school I'd be skimming a book, I never even cracked moments before the test...speaking from experience and a lot of stress that could have been avoided...don't do this.

I know it's still your summer vacation, but now there are actually some things you can start preparing even before you get into your classroom. Usually you get a few days to work in your classroom once your contract days begin, but it's never enough time and admin loves to sneak little meetings in on those days to suck up that precious time.

So let's start by talking supplies...first you have to decide if you want community supplies or individual supplies. For Kindergarten I recommend community supplies. Especially at the beginning of the year these kids will be all over the place and keeping track of their own heads will be a challenge let alone which crayon box is theirs.

I love using play dough containers to keep the crayons. You can fit a standard box and they won't fall out. Head out to the shops now and take advantage of the back to school sales. I know you think you'll have plenty of supplies from the kids, but it never hurts to have extras... and you'll be surprised at how many kids will come to school the first day with absolutely nothing with them.  Buy the play dough and put it in a ziplock for later use and get those crayons in there. The first time I used these I went through the trouble of ripping off the label, but this isn't really necessary. You can always stick a label with the kids names on them later.

 Okay, another thing to think about is unit storage. For Kindergarten every week or two you will focus on a new unit of study. My first year in Kinder I inherited 45 file boxes from a Kinder teacher who retired. I was also lucky enough to have an enormous closet to store them probably won't be so lucky to have this much storage so I would recommend smaller boxes like these. These are cowboy boot boxes, which you can go to a shoe store and ask if they'll gift some to you. Go ahead and start labeling them now. You will definitely need a box labeled, "All about me", "First week of School", "Family", "Community Workers", "Winter Holiday's", "The Gingerbread Man" (My favorite!), and if your school allows religious holiday then Easter, etc. or if you work at a public school then a lot of times we would do "Eggs" during Easter week or "Bones/Bats" for Halloween.

You'll want to have at least some of these boxes ready now, because you'll be bombarded with so much stuff during the first few weeks and throughout the year, that it's great to have a place to shove it, instead of a big pile in the corner which is what I did my first year!

Now that you've got your boxes for things on theme like puzzles, toys, etc. you need a place to put all the papers and when I say all the papers, I mean all the papers!!! By the end of your first year you'll be convinced that a whole forest was bulldozed for the amount of paper you're going to collect!

So run out to a big box store and get your self at least 100 file folders, the regular old manila one's will do. You can start labeling those as well with the same titles as the boxes above and if you are teaching Kinder specifically you can make one for the Math subjects too. If your school has an online curriculum, it would be a great tool for you to find out what subjects will be taught so you can use those categories to label your files or boxes.

Below you'll find a file box that I want you to put by the door of your classroom, this will be a place to keep important papers on your students, notice how it's numbered. The reason for this is so that next year all you have to do is remove the papers and you are ready to go, instead of having to re-label all of the folders with each students name. Make a chart like this to hang on the wall next to the file box

These are just a few things you can do to get ready, at least until you get your list of names. Until then, have fun going to your local teacher's store to get classroom essentials, like a classroom calendar, desk name cards, etc and get to the laminating machine if you can!

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