Visual Lesson Plans - How I Fit It All In


  I often get asked how I'm able to fit things into my day and I'm hoping this helps give you an idea of how that looks.  Let's go ahead and start with the plans.  I'm fortunate enough to be able to help teachers plan for their days while pushing in to assist and mentor.  We talk a lot about "fitting it all in" and I hope this helps you to see what that looks like.  I tend to OVERplan because I'd rather have more than enough to get through the day(s).






Whew.

Now let's break it all down.

MORNING WARM-UP
Most kids are still filtering in during this time, so I like to give my kids something hands-on to keep them engaged while everyone is arriving.  When I'm working with teachers, I really try to encourage them to give students hands-on materials instead of worksheets.  While I do feel like those have their place in the classroom depending on the content, I feel like the morning time is a GREAT time to phase them out.  

Make It Monday 
Kids can use various mediums to make their names. Q-tips and paint, tear paper, white crayon and watercolor, or markers & crayons.  Each choice is placed at a different table.  When my kids come in, they grab their name cards from the pocket chart and then choose how they want to make their names. I write their names for them on a piece of construction paper and they go to town.  

Type It Out Tuesday  
As the kids come in, they can grab a "keyboard" and practice typing their names and the names of their friends.  Make name cards available to use as a resource.

I Wonder Wednesday
On Wednesdays we work in our "I Wonder" journals.  I display an "I Wonder" prompt on the whiteboard, we talk about it, and then they write/illustrate their "wonder" in their journals. This week's I Wonder prompt can be found on Wonderopolis HERE.


Creative Thinking Thursday
I've used draw starts since my first year teaching.  This is one of the components my first district used to identify GT students.  Draw starts are a great way for your kids to think outside the box.  Once they complete the draw start, they write about it.  These are great for collecting and keeping in student portfolios, too!


Find It Friday  
Students will search to find their names and the names of their classmates in a Wordle or Word Search.  If you're new to Wordles, see how I create them for sight words HERE.  
You can Google "Word Search Generator" to find a website that best fits your needs for creating customized word searches.


If you don't think a system like this would work for you, you could always consider rotating the activities throughout the week.  On Monday, table 1 does a doodle loop, table 2 does a sight wordle, so forth and so on.  Just an idea. 

Now let's break down my literacy/reading block.
I flexibly pull my kids up to teacher table for small group guided reading activities and lessons.  For my K babies, we're learning letters at the teacher table for warm ups.  You can read more about that HERE.


I'm using small group activities from my Guided Reading Phonics Activities Bundle for my first graders this time of the year.


Here's what we've got going on during our literacy rotations (literacy tubs and centers):


Pocket Chart:  I write out the first letters of the names in my class on a small index card and place them in the pocket chart.  I also create name cards for each student in my class.  You can read more about how I created those HERE.  I place the cards in a tub and then students work together to sort the names by first letter.


Writing:  In Power Point, I create a single sheet class roster with names and pictures.  I make sure to take a picture of each of my kids the first week of school.  Each picture is placed in the file and their first names are typed underneath their pictures.  Then I create a separate writing sheet.  I take all of those pictures and place them in a file going vertically then place writing lines next to each picture.  I place the picture/writing line sheets in a plastic sheet protector in the writing center.  The kids choose one and then practice writing their friends names next to the matching pictures.  They use the single sheet class roster as a resource.

Word Work #1
Name Baggies:  THis activity is from my Say My Name packet.  Students choose 4 name baggies assemble the names, and record.  They love this one. I keep this one in my literacy centers for two weeks and then move it over to the "fast finisher/anchor activities" after that.  I send them home with the kids at the end of the year.

Word Work #2
Name Sorts:  This is another activity from my Say My Name packet.  This week the kids will be using letter tiles and t-charts sorting by "letters in my name/letters not in my name". I have them choose up to 5 different names to sort through before moving on to their next activity. I have several sorts included in this packet, so this is a tub that I keep out for a couple of weeks to give my kids several opportunities to practice.

Word Work #3
Build a Name:  This is another activity included in my Say My Name packet.  The kids build their name with tactile letters or letter tiles, write it with a pencil, stamp it, rainbow write it, and decorate it.

Word Work #4
Mystery Bags:  Students assemble scrambled letters inside of a mystery bag to find out who the mystery student is.

Art
Name Craftivity: This is another activity included in my Say My Name Packet. Kids put together the craft template and stamp their names.  The activity can be differentiated based on student needs.


Sight Word Station
The sight word station has a variety of activities with which the students are familiar and they will choose an activity to do giving them an opportunity to practice spelling/identifying/reading their sight words.  These are some things from which the kids can choose...









Now let's move on to Phonics and Poetry...

When the kids come to the carpet for whole group phonics, we start with a poem and a chant for a warm up.  These warm-ups/chants are pretty quick and don't take too much time, but they get the kids settled and engaged with a quickness.  I keep the Name Chant out all year long and when we're done with the names, sight words take their place.  

You can download the Name Chant (for free) below.
After we've warmed up, we do a quick whole group lesson.  That's where the direct, explicit instruction takes place. That is necessary before moving onto independent practice.  I have to teach before I can expect them to do.  All of the independent activities pictured above are in my Short Vowel Ventures - Short A packet.



Now let's talk about Math.  

For Math whole group on Tuesday, we'll be making a Name Graph.  I love Julie Lee's from Mrs. Lee's Kindergarten.

You'll also notice that I warm up with our Number Line Prompts.


Let's break down the math tubs.  I incorporate name recognition here, too.

  Math Tub #1
I place a set of student name/picture cards in a tub and then have my kids choose 10.  They count and graph the names on a recording sheet and discuss the data with a partner.

Math Tub #2
Name Measurement - I place a set of student name/picture cards in this tub also.  The kids have to choose their own name plus 4 more and use the manipulatives labeled on the recording sheet to measure the names they chose.  They will use their own name card to record the data on the recording sheet.

Math Tub #3
Choose It.  Build It.  Add It - Students choose two name cards, count the letters in each, and then build matching snap cube towers.  If the name has 7 letters, they build a snap cube tower with 7 cubes.  On the recording sheet, students will write the names and color in the number of cubes they used to build their tower.  Then the kids will take the number of letters in each name and add them together (write an equation).  They can combine their snap cube towers to correct their work.  You can download your recording sheet for free HERE:


Math Tub #4
Name Frames - one of our favorite activities!  The kids will use the letters in their names to fill the frame and then determine the amount needed to make 10 altogether.  It's a FREE download HERE.


Math Tub #5
If you're familiar with mine & Abby's Science units, you know that we're all about cross curricular content.  This is a great way to bring science concepts into the math setting.  This activity is called Magnified Math and students have to use science tools (the theme of the week) to find solve equations or find numbers hidden in a picture.  

Math Tub #6
Science Tools Tally - this activity brings science tools into the math setting.  Students have to roll a die, identify the science tool, and then tally the amount they roll.  Simple, easy, and meaningful.

Math Tub #7
Lab Coat Capture - this is a fun partner game (math with friend) where players get to practice 1:1 correspondence and identifying numbers that are more/less.

Math Tub #8
Good Citizens are ONEderful - again with the cross curricular content, only this time the focus is social studies.  This activity compliments our study on good citizenship - the first SS TEK we cover here in Texas and I'll pretty much take any chance I can get to reinforce the importance of being a good citizen.
And then we finish out the day with Theme...aka - Science and Social Studies.  Here's what that looks like visually, but you can take a closer peek in the plans.  Just download them HERE.

Whew!!!!


Hope this helps you visually see how I try to fit it all in!!! 

Building Relationships & a ONE DAY ONLY Sale!

Today we're talking about something that's near and dear to my heart as both a teacher AND a parent...parent/teacher relationships!!!  But before we get started, let's get some housekeeping out of the way.

TODAY ONLY (August 22), Teachers Pay Teachers is having a back-to-school BONUS sitewide sale! You might want to snag some of those items on your wish list before the sale expires at midnight (EST).


Just be sure to enter the promo code ONEDAY at checkout to get your discount!!! 

And here's a quick little shopping tip.... 

If you're looking to see if I have something you might need, you can always type keywords in the "Quick Find" bar (pictured below).  For example, if you're wondering if I have any Apple themed resources, you can type in "apples" and the products I have relating to that keyword will pop up.



You can also browse through the Custom Categories tab on the left hand side of my store.  This is a great way to search based on specific concepts/skills, thematically, subject area, etc.  


Now let's move along with our regularly scheduled programming, shall we?!




Establishing and maintaining relationships with parents!!!

When I first started teaching about 14 years ago, I was a very timid and insecure 23-year-old.  I was unsure of  myself as a teacher and I was nervous as all get out about talking to parents.  I remember being asked (by several different parents) on meet the teacher night my first year, "how old are you?!?!" I remember thinking how they must have thought I looked too young to be teaching their babies.  Oh, how I wish I still had that problem. 
#grayhairdon'tcare #crowsfeet #wrinklesfordays

I remember being so scared to tell parents about their child's behavior...would they accuse me of lying?  Or say I didn't know how to handle my kids because it was my first year in the classroom?  
I walked on eggshells when it came to important conversations.  I wanted to seem competent.  I wanted parents to love me.  I remember being terrified to talk about the "hard stuff"...low test scores, struggling learners, etc.  I wanted to bypass those conversations and talk about all the cool things that were going on in the classroom.  Being a professional is tough! 
 #thestruggleisreal

That first year in the classroom taught me SO much about myself as a teacher...both professionally and personally.  I learned to put on my "big girl panties" and deal with it all.  For me, it was all trial and error.  I made a lot of mistakes and there are situations I wish I could take back and do-over.  But without those experiences, I wouldn't have learned and grown...both personally and professionally :) 

Since that first year, parent/teacher relationships have always been important to me...even the hard conversations.  I'm even more sensitive to these relationships since becoming a parent myself.  
My goal as a teacher has always been to have strong relationships with my parents.  I know some of the girls I've taught with think I'm nuts for having hour long conferences with my parents.  I just can't stop talking. I love building those relationships!!!  

To this day I'm still great friends with SO many of my former parents.  I even had a few of my parents drive from Dallas to Houston when I got married 12 years ago!  Every year I get Christmas cards from many of my former families and I love keeping up with them all on Facebook, too.  Really, they've all become part of my family.  Part of who I am as a teacher.  And I love them to pieces.

I'm definitely no expert when it comes to these relationships, but I think it's an important conversation to have and I wanted to share a few little tips I think  (in my own experience) are really important for establishing and maintaining them.



1.   Making deposits before taking withdrawals
Oh goodness is this important!  As a parent, I don't want the first thing out of my teacher's mouth to be something negative about my kids.  Trust me...I know they can be a handful, but ohmiword...hearing the bad before the good would sure make me wonder if they see anything good about my child at all.   Every parent's wish is for a teacher to love their child and see the good in them {or maybe that's just my wish??!!}.  I always try to keep that in mind.  Every student is someone's child. 

Every year we have our sweet little stinkers.  We really want to nip their not-so-desireable behavior in the bud before it gets out of control and our first line of defense is to pull clips/call parents/send home notes, etc.  I'm not saying any of that is wrong, but if that's the first conversation our parents have with us, we're probably less likely to bond.  That could make for some really awkward and tense conferences in the future and it could put our parents on the defense if other situations arise throughout the year.  Until you're able to have positive communication with your parents, try and find the best in every student and focus on that.  Make a deposit before taking a withdrawal.

Here are some tips:



-Make a positive phone call home to each of your parents/guardians the first few weeks of school. This establishes a good connection with your parents and starts the year off on the right foot.  Don't email.  CALL.  Call a few different parents each day so that you aren't trying to fit it all into one afternoon.  If you're worried about getting "stuck" on the phone in a long conversation, preface the conversation with, "I know you're busy and I don't want to keep you, but I just had to call you and tell you how much I love having Susie in my class!  She is always so happy and I love the way she takes the initiative to help without being asked.  This is going to be a great year!  I just wanted to let you know!!"  



-In addition to a phone call, send home a handwritten "thank you" card to each of your parents the first few weeks of school.  I've done this for years and always have parents tell me how much they loved the gesture.  My thank you cards read something like this....
"Dear Mr. & Mrs. Carroll, 
Thank you so much for trusting me with Landon.  He is such a sweet boy with so much potential and I can tell this is going to be a great year.  I am so excited to watch him grow this year.  He is so kind to others and has such neat handwriting.  He loves to participate in our group discussions, too!  Thank you so much for giving him such a great foundation and preparing him for our year together.  I'm looking forward to partnering with you this year and if you ever have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, please contact me at (123)555-5555.  This is going to be a wonderful year!
Sincerely, me"
I always try to include something specific about their child in the note (handwriting, participation, etc.).

- Keep a "behavior sheet" for every student in your class.  At the beginning of the year, organize these into their portfolios.  Carry around a clipboard with blank labels.  When you notice something great about your kids, jot it down on a label and stick it on their "behavior sheet".  These behaviors could be ANYTHING...works well with others, helps without being asked, very attentive, always positive, etc.  Notice the good and jot it down.  When you want to make a positive phone call home or send home a quick little "happy note", you'll have specific examples of things to include in your conversation :)





2. Be Accessible
An "open door policy" can mean a lot of different things depending on where you teach.  As teachers we definitely want to establish boundaries.  It can be distracting for our kids when there are too many visitors and it can definitely throw off a routine and cause interruptions in our instructional time.  Make sure those boundaries are set, but also make sure that parents know they are welcome.  If your school doesn't allow parents in the classroom, this might manifest itself by way of phone calls and conferences.  I personally give parents my cell phone and tell them "if you can trust me with your child for 10 months, I can trust you with my phone number.  I may not get back to you right away if I'm spending time with my family, but if it's an emergency I will contact you as soon as possible."  This sets boundaries in a nice way, but also lets them know I'm there for them if they need me.  Of course, this doesn't work for everyone, but it's something I'm comfortable with and it works for me. And I always want my parents to know that they can contact me about anything...if they're unsure about something, have a question, are upset, worried, etc.  Whatever it is, I want them to know they can contact me about it.  I personally prefer phone calls because tone can't be read through an email and so many things can get misconstrued and taken out of context.  HOWEVER, I also know that email is important for documentation purposes.  




3.  Be Upfront
Don't be scared to talk about the hard stuff.  You're not doing anyone any favors by tiptoeing around the hard to have conversations.  As always be professional and kind, but by all means, be upfront.  Parents need to know if you have concerns and you need to tell them exactly what your concerns could mean for the future.  They most certainly don't want to be blindsided by anything.  If your sweetie is bullying his friends, let your parents know what you see so they aren't in shock when he is sent to the principal for something really serious.  If your sweet baby is struggling in various academic areas and isn't on track to be promoted to the next grade level, let your parents know before the last day of school.  Nobody likes to be surprised!!  




4.  Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!!!
I don't think I can stress this one enough!  I've always had great relationships with my parents, but there have been a couple of times when parents have been upset with me (happens to us all!) due to a misunderstanding or miscommunication.  Parents are the best advocates for their kids and I always encourage them to do just that...advocate for your babies!!!  Heck...I'll advocate for mine because I know no one else will.  All that to be said, the better the communication, the less you'll have to worry about anyone misunderstanding.  Here are some things I've found that really help keep parents in the loop.

- Parent/Teacher Conferences - I'm not talking about the conferences you're required to have 3-4 times a year.  I'm talking about the conferences that are needed to discuss pressing issues....behavior, academic concerns, bullying, etc.  Be proactive and set-up conferences when you feel there's a need. 



- Weekly Newsletters - Let's be real.  Our students aren't always forthcoming about what's going on in their classrooms.  I know when I pick up my boys at the end of the day the first question I ask is always, "how was your day?!?!" or "what did you do today??!!"  The answers are always "fine" and "nothing", LOL!!!  But it's SO true!!!  Being a parent myself, I always want to know what my kids are doing when they're not with me.  What are they learning?  What can I do at home to help them be more successful in the classroom?  Are there any special events/birthdays/activities coming up?  A weekly newsletter keeps them in the loop and aware of what's going on.  I email my newsletter to my parents and include a section for "What We Learned This Week", "What We're Learning Next Week", "Upcoming Events/Birthdays/Activities", "Important Reminders", and "Kids Say the Darndest Things".  


-Simply Circle - This is an EXCELLENT platform for communicating with parents!!!!  If you're not familiar with Simply Circle, you must check it out!!!!  




5.  Love Their Kids
If you do nothing else, LOVE their kids.  Even the babies that are hard to love.  Love them.  Be kind to them.  SMILE at them.  Praise them.  Compliment them.  Hug them.  Make them laugh.  Listen to them.  Love them, love them, and then LOVE THEM SOME MORE.  When you love them, they love you and in turn, so do their parents.  I have LOVED my boys' teachers to pieces because I know they've loved my boys.  I hear what my boys say about them.  I hear how my boys feel about the way they're treated.  They have LOVED their teachers and because of that, I have loved them, too.  
If you can and if you feel comfortable, here's a tip...


-Spend time getting to know your kids OUTSIDE of the classroom.  Attend dance recitals, baseball games, church events, etc.  You can't attend every single event for every single child, but try to attend at least one.  Send home a little survey or questionnaire at the beginning of the year asking your parents for a schedule of their child's extracurricular activities/events.   Just an extra little something to show you're invested in WHO they are...not just who they are in the classroom.  And ohmiword, the look on your kid's faces when they see you at THEIR event?!?!  Priceless!!!!


And just remember that sometimes, no matter how much you communicate...how much you praise...how much you LOVE their child...some parents might not see eye to eye with you and/or your teaching philosophy.  Sometimes they want what you can't give.  Sometimes they don't want what you're giving.  But as long as you have their child's best interest at heart....and as long as you are doing everything you can to give their child every opportunity possible...that has to be enough :)  
Just remember to be positive and professional in every situation and take every experience as a learning opportunity.

What are some things you do to establish and maintain parent/teacher relationships?!  I'd love to hear more!!!

Social Studies & Such

Hey y'all!  Is everybody surviving the back to school rush?  My boys know who their teachers are and we're meeting them tomorrow night so they're all kinds of excited! (ME TOO!!!!)

Lots of things have been happening behind the scenes here that have been keeping me unexpectedly busy (that's life, right?!), but I wanted to pop-in real quick to tell you a little bit about my newest resources for my K & 1st teachers.



After we released several months worth of Science plans in the Spring, we received lots of emails asking if we were planning on creating a similar Social Studies resource filled with detailed lesson plans and cross curricular suggestions and ideas.  I loved that idea and quickly got to work laying out an outline for the school year.  I went to our state standards (in Texas we use TEKS) and worked on aligning those standards with the national social studies standards for K-1.  Many of the standards for K-1 overlap in certain areas, but I thought it was important to make sure that these resources were separate to target specific grade level objectives.  So unlike The Science Of resources that are a K-1 combo, these social studies resources for K-1 are separate



 So for those of you that have been emailing asking if social studies is ready, well now it is!  The first unit anyway :)    Sorry for the delay and thank you for your patience and understanding!!!

Simply Social Studies is similar to The Science Of... in regards to the detailed lesson plans, book suggestions, cross-curricular connections, vocabulary cards, craftivities, and anchor chart ideas.  And just like The Science Of..., you can use as much or as little of each lesson as best fits the needs of your class!!!



The first unit of Simply Social Studies is all about citizenship. The first unit of  Kindergarten Social Studies focuses on being a good citizen while the First Grade Unit dives deeper into the concept of good citizenship.  Both the Kindergarten and First Grade Unit 1 resources include vocabulary cards and discussion questions for each lesson.  I like to keep my vocabulary cards on a ring so that I can carry them with me and use them during transitions and whatnot.



Detailed lesson plans include objectives, vocabulary, ELA & Math extensions, as well as a "materials needed" list for quick reference...



...and each lesson also includes an optional review/assessment printable that can be completed in a whole group/small group or independent setting.


Just like in The Science Of resources, book suggestions are also included for each lesson in the unit as well as anchor chart suggestions and accompanying craftivities.  While book suggestions are included, they are by no means necessary for the success of the lesson.  That to be said, I do feel strongly about including read alouds in your lessons (whatever books you choose!!!) to help your kids make deeper connections and build a more authentic understanding of the content.  


And as usual, cross curricular activities and suggestions  for further skill & concept implementation.


As the year progresses, more Simply Social Studies units will be added...as well as four mini-units!!!...so be on the lookout for those.  

Here's what that will look like...

Kindergarten (to be added)...
Unit 2:  Alike & Different
Unit 3:  Community Helpers
Unit 4:  Basic Needs & Going to Work
Unit 5:  On the Map
Unit 6:  Where We Live
Unit 7:  Technology & How We Live

First Grade (to be added)...
Unit 2:  Families & Communities
Unit 3:  Basic Needs, Wants, & Family Provisions
Unit 4:  On the Map
Unit 5:  Where We Live
Unit 6:  Inventors & Inventions
Unit 7:  Basic Economics
Unit 8:  Technology at Home & Work

Mini-Units for K&1 (to be added)
Mini-Unit 1:  Choosing a Leader (Elections & Voting)
Mini-Unit 2:  Thanksgiving History, Customs, & Traditions
Mini-Unit 3:  Holidays Around the World
Mini-Unit 4:  Celebrating America

And unfortunately, I don't have completion dates available NOR do I have plans for a growing bundle!  As I've learned over the last few years, life is just TOO unpredictable and I would hate not to be able to fulfill a commitment on time!!!  

Have a FABULOUS day!

The GRAND PRIZE FINALE! An Insta-Hop GIVEAWAY!!!

The Back to School Bash 2016 has been so much fun! Thank you to everyone who has joined us this year. BUT...it's not over yet! We have one final chance for you to win! When we say win, we mean WIN BIG! Anyone needing some updated technology for your classroom? I give you the B2S Bash Grand Prize...



Yes! This is real life!
Yes! This could be in your classroom very soon! 

But you have to enter first! Here's how you do it: 

1) Begin the insta hop by locating @stepintosecondgrade on instagram. You will want to begin with Amy so that you collect the letter tiles in order. Each blogger will link to another letter. Click on the letter and hop to the next location. As you hop...

a) follow each blogger 
b)  collect each letter

The letter tiles look like this....



2. The letters will reveal a question. (Don't worry...the letters go in order so you don't have to unscramble a thing!) 

3. Once you have figured out the question, hop on over to any of our blogs to enter the Rafflecopter to win! You will be asked to answer the instaHOP question! 

You only have 24 hours to enter, so go get your hop on! ;) 

 Yep! That simple! So have you finished your hop? 

Enter below: 


Meet the Teacher Freebies!

Well...it's about that time.  Time to go back to school.  Do I hear a resonating sigh??  Or are you ready for routine and structure?!  Me personally...I need routine!  

At any rate, with the approach of a new year also comes the anticipation of Meet the Teacher night.  I absolutely LOVE Meet the Teacher!  I love meeting my kids and their families.  I love seeing my students around their parents.  I mean seriously.  The kids I'm always nervous about at the end of the night are typically my most well behaved kids!  They're just really comfortable around their parents :)  And that's perfectly fine with me!  

With the new school year right around the corner, I thought it would by a great time to talk a little about one of my favorite nights of the year.  I'm no expert and I'm sure there are a million and one different amazing ideas out there for running a smooth and successful Meet the Teacher night, but I'd like to share with you a few tips and tricks that worked well for me when I was in the classroom.



When the kids walk in on Meet the Teacher night, their desks/tables are prepped and ready for their arrival.  Desks/tables are labeled with names.  My supply boxes are set out and labeled.  My transportation chart is up.  And I have a huge smile on my face :)  

Lets talk about what's on the desks first.

A Meet the Teacher Checklist

A "Welcome to First Grade" Booklet including:
- Meet Your Teacher handout
- First Grade Expectations handout
- Class schedule
-What is My Child Learning in First Grade? handout

A Student information sheet

A 9x12 tabbed envelope filled with paperwork (from the school) & a "Getting to Know You" handout from me

Name card for transportation pocket chart

Ready Confetti package and poem



This checklist sits on top of everything else on the desk.  I tell my kids to find their desks when they walk in the room.  Of course, they have to search for their name and they're shy for all of about 5 seconds before they start whipping around the desks to see where they'll be sitting.


This checklist tells my parents exactly what I want them & their kids to do while they're in the room.  I love having a checklist for them to complete because it takes the pressure off me and frees me up to walk around the room and greet my kids & families as they walk in.  I get a lot of questions too so it's good to have them all working on things while I'm answering those questions.


The checklist...as mentioned before...sits on top of a 9x12 envelope filled with paperwork (from the school) and a Welcome to First Grade! booklet I compile for the parents to read through (either at home or in the classroom).  This is what's included in that booklet...



I like for the first page in that booklet to be a little "all about me" handout just to let them know a little bit about who I am.  I think it's a great way to make an immediate connection with your kids and they love getting to know more about their teacher.




This student information sheet also sits on top of the 9x12 envelope.  I want my parents to fill this out before heading home so that I have all this information on hand come the first day of school.  I have a student information binder I keep next to my computer.  Each child in the room has his/her own tab.  I file these information sheets inside that student binder (along with many other things!!!)




Next up on the checklist....transportation.  This is what I consider to be the single most important piece of information you need to get from your kids before they leave that night.  My biggest first day...uh, first week...fear is losing a child due to transportation confusion.  


When I have kids that don't show up, I make sure to call home before the first day so that I can have their transportation information when I start the day.  Sometimes things are so chaotic and busy on that first day that I'm afraid I'll forget to ask my parents how their kids are getting home.  A phone call home really helps to put my mind at ease.  I like keeping the transportation arrangements on a pocket chart because it helps me...and the kids..to "see" exactly how everyone is getting home at the end of the day.  It's a great visual reminder for my kids..especially those that are really anxious about how they'll be getting home at the end of the day.

In addition to having a visual of the transportation arrangements, I also have my parents complete a school issued transportation sheet before leaving that night as well.  This sheet requires them to indicate transportation arrangements for the first day, first week, and remainder of the year.  I make copies of this sheet and keep one in my student information binder and then the original stays in the office.

Moving onto supplies...
I've organized supplies in a million different ways through the years, but the most efficient way I've found is having your kids/parents sort for you the night of Meet the Teacher.  This is a no-fuss, low-prep way for you to get organized and goodness knows that in the chaos and craziness of prepping for Meet the Teacher, you need as much no-fuss/low prep as you can get ;)

Most kids will either be bringing their supplies or having their supply packs delivered to the classroom that night.  I remember sitting in my classroom for about 2 hours AFTER Meet the Teacher every year for the first 7 years, I swear.  I would be going through each of my kids' supplies and sorting them into our community supply bins.  It took FOREVER.  Then a smart friend suggested the kids do it.  GENIUS.  If you don't do this already and you're looking for an easier way to manage supplies, I would definitely suggest trying this!  Because I have community supplies in my classroom, this arrangement works beautifully.  At the end of the night all I have to do is take the boxes and transfer the supplies into the tubs on my supply shelf.  I do have my kids keep a few supplies in their desks (as mentioned on the checklist) for the first day, but everything else gets put on the supply shelf.  I know some teachers like to label and sort through the supplies with their kids on the first day to just make sure all of their kids brought them, but I prefer for them to be completely sorted because the first week of school is crazy enough :)  I want to focus my time & energy into other things that are really important!


I strongly believe in making deposits before you can take withdrawls, so I want to start the year off on the right foot with my parents and let them know I'm invested in their child.  We're a team!!  
Set out a stack of envelopes and ask your parents to fill them out with their name and address.  Hold on to the envelopes and spend the first couple weeks of school getting to know their child....take notes on specific details about the child (Bobby is a very detailed artist....Susie is so kind and compassionate...a real friend to everyone,etc.)  Write a handwritten note home to parents including some of these specific details and tell parents how much you enjoy their child and how you're looking forward to watching him/her grow throughout the year.  BUILD THOSE RELATIONSHIPS!!  
A handwritten letter is SO much more personal than an email or a text.  I've had parents in the past tell me that receiving their note was a *highlight* of the year for them...parents LOVE hearing that their teachers see the good in their child like they do :)



Not only do parents like to hear great things about their kids, but they like to stay connected, too.  I personally have no problem giving my parents my cell #.  I like to be able to text them pictures of their kids while they're at school...especially on field trips the parents can't attend.  But that's just me.  Create a QR code with your info (cell #, email, etc.), print, and display during Meet the Teacher.  Encourage your parents to scan the code so that they'll have all your contact info in their phones before they leave for the night.  I love having all that info at my fingertips...just in case ;)  Of course, if you're not into letting your parents have your info, Meet the Teacher night would be a great time to start your campaign for Remind and encourage everyone to sign up before leaving.




I didn't have any personal pictures from my classroom saved, so I found a couple of my favorites to give you a visual of my explanation.  If you have any wishes you'd like filled for the year...extra glue sticks, construction paper, craft supplies, etc., write them on a label and stick them to the teacher supply cutouts and display them for your parents to see.  In the past I've used the "helping hands", popcorn pieces in a popcorn box (displayed on my white board), and fish in fish bowl.  Same idea, different presentations.  I kindly suggest that they might like looking at that display and if they find it in their hearts to fulfill any of those wishes, I will be FOREVER grateful :)
I collect the wishes that don't get taken and then type them up in the weekly newsletter.




The best part of my night is sending my kids home with their "Ready Confetti".  Such a fun tradition and one the kids...and parents...talk about ALL year.  For real!  I'm so happy I have such smart friends because this is in no way my idea.  


Speaking of Meet the Teacher, these are my favorite student gifts.  Just print and hot glue the bouncy balls into the empty space :)  You can get the balls at Hobby Lobby or Michael's!  Easy peasy!  I like to leave these in my kids' mailboxes and have them find their boxes and grab their gifts before heading home that night.  Such fun!

You can download these...FREE...HERE!


While we're talking about Meet the Teacher, let's consider setting up your room in stations!!!    I printed out these station signs to make the night easy to manage and free me up to answer any questions my parents might have.  They're editable and you can grab them FREE HERE.


Whew!  I think that covers it!

If you have any questions or want to share any amazing ideas or simple "why didn't I think of that?!" management & organization ideas, I'd LOVE to hear 'em!