Remember the Klondike bar ads of a few years ago? As back to school time approaches, teachers are very much like the people in those commercials. We will do just about anything to be sure the school year gets off to a smooth start. Around the middle of July, the dreams (or nightmares) begin:
- A first day without any furniture or in a double-booked classroom shared with alternative ed
- A first day without air conditioning — and you forgot deodorant
- A first day when someone took down all your bulletin boards and replaced them with brown kraft paper and old staples
- A first day when every student cries (well, maybe not in high school)
- A first day with high school students cussing and screaming at you
- A first day when the fire alarm rings three minutes after the first bell
What would you do to get the school year off to a smooth start? After a couple of years, we each develop our own rituals. Start going to bed early a week before - check. Exercise like a maniac to relieve stress - check. Make two weeks’ worth of copies so you don’t end up waiting in line at the copier on day 1 - check. Send a letter to your new little ones two weeks before school – check.
But there is a danger in ritual. July is a time to consider new back to school rituals and ceremonial starts. You might even find something new to make the start even smoother. I was helping pull together back to school ideas on TeachersFirst today, so I thought I would share a few:
- Appeal to the visual. Our kids are bombarded with things to LOOK at in their “real” lives, so your classroom should scream “Look at me!” too. Try Bulletin Board Hangups to grab wandering minds. Find fresh bulletin board ideas using this keyword search. Don’t forget to OPEN the reviews to read the full details and ideas.
- First impressions last, so make one. No, teachers should not feel obligated to try out for Comedy Central, but why not plan a great first day with one of these first day ideas?
- Make homework a team sport. Get parents involved in supporting their child’s study skills. There are great tools that kids might even enjoy using (though they will never admit it!).
- Get everybody organized. Specifically address organizational skills like time management, dividing larger tasks into smaller pieces, making lists, etc. We adults need help with this, so why wouldn’t our students?
- Share with a teacher friend. Use tools like Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, or a good, old-fashioned face to face lunch to share some new ideas. Share with friends you don’t know yet by making and reading comments on TeachersFirst resources– a free feature with free membership. Simple ideas can make or break that first day.
May your July be filled with positive dreams and a few Klondike bars