July 30, 2021 by HCDE-Texas
If you have a year or more of teaching experience, you likely understand how your neatly prioritized back-to-school to-do list quickly becomes a heap of sticky notes piling up in your workspace once the first day of class arrives. Here are a few small tips to help you save some trees—and your school year.
Take stock of your space, both physical and digital. Look through those items you kept “just in case” and determine if they will truly be helpful this year or not.
- Get rid of any outdated materials, paperwork, or lessons plans in your desk.
- Repurpose and modify what materials and lessons you can.
- Declutter your computer and restructure your digital files for ease of access to improve your workflow.
Decide on a classroom setup
A good classroom layout will set you up for success.
- Designate areas of your classroom for different activities or uses, if possible. Arrange desks in a way that allows for smooth transitions between individual, group, or center work, or perhaps even create a reading area or “class library.”
- Sketch out ideas for engaging bulletin boards, anchor charts, or other tools to support units in your content area.
- If appropriate, set-aside a time in the first few weeks of school to have your students propose ideas for your classroom design. Get creative and turn it into a lesson by having your students learn to create a grid map. Asking for your students’ input is a great way to incorporate youth voice into your classroom strategy.
Plan what you can
You cannot predict everything the school year will throw your way, but you can plan ahead for the few things that are certain.
- Make copies of your syllabus, classroom expectations, parent letters, and other materials going home with students in the first week. While you’re at it, make copies of any worksheets or handouts you plan to repurpose from previous years, too.
- Keep a few ideas in your back pocket for those five to 10 minutes at the end of class when your lesson wraps up early, or when your students just need a quick mental break. Find some filler activities and modify them to fit the needs and interests of your students.