Monday, August 8, 2011

Officially Overwhelmed

Today I went and signed my contract- YAY!

I also saw my classroom for the first time- AHH!

It's EMPTY. I have 25 desks, a teacher desk, a table, 2 filing cabinets, 2 bookshelves, and THAT'S IT.  Well, except the interactive white board that I couldn't turn on and need SERIOUS training for.  I've heard stories of retired teachers leaving mountains of things for the new teacher, and was really hoping that this would be the case in my situation.  Boy was I wrong!

I need to reach out to anyone and everyone who is a teacher- Here's my question:


I have a limited budget, but want to make sure that I am 110% prepared for the first month of school until I get paid and can invest more in my classroom.  What is absolutely necessary for me to have, and what items can you not live without in your classroom?

Please help a sister teacher out!!!  Tell all your friends, link up!


  1. I've been teaching first grade for four years and will start my first year teaching kindergarten in a week(!) . Here's a list I am putting together for myself, since I'll be moving furniture around my new room today.

    Guided reading table: horseshoe. You should be able to see every student from your seat at this table, and your small reading group should have their backs to the action :)

    Teacher small group supplies: this works best for me if it's behind my seat at the guided reading table. THen, I can reach what I need without leaving my group, but it doesn't take up room on the table. Sentence strips, pencils, pens, markers, blank paper, highlighter tape, reward stickers. Also, I keep at arm's reach the materials I've put together for each guided reading group for that week.

    Cubbies: these are for anything that's going to go home that day. One for each student and I label them with the student numbers before school starts. After the first week, I put the students names on their because the class list is less fluid after the first week.

    A place for their backpacks. Even if you don't have a dedicated closet (which is best) you need a place that is out of the way, because otherwise a few kids will rifle through the bags during the day, their own or someone else's. It's a distraction.

    Curtains for your shelves. I use cafe tension rods and thin cotton fabric in a solid color. I use blue because it's my favorite color and it's calming (every little bit helps!).

    more to come.....

    Also, just ask and I can give you access to my note at where I'm keeping my various To Do lists so they don't muck up my head.

  2. Classroom computers: you can't choose much about where these go because they need to be connected to the LAN outlet. It helps if you can see the monitors from your seat at the reading table, but also if the students in literacy centers can't see the monitors.

    Literacy centers: there are as many ways to do this as there are teachers. Get with your team or the kindergarten teachers to see how they do/did centers with your students. Then, do what works for you.

    Student supplies: my first graders each had a plastic pencil box with crayons, pencils, and eraser. The community supplies were on a dedicated table, with one container of crayons for each table, markers for each table, etc. Also, I had a container for sharpened pencils and one for "dead pencils".

    In the center of each table, I had a plastic basket from the dollar store. In this basket: student library books, student's personal bags of independent level books, laminated 100's charts. These could be moved easily if we needed the table cleared for an activity.

  3. Desk arrangement: I had round tables (loved them), but some of my team members chose to have desks. They all used the desks clustered together in "table" groups.

    First day of school: you can't overplan for this. Be 110% sure, like you mentioned, that you know what you want to do with your kids. Have a schedule, but be flexible.

    Decide what you will use in your classroom for a signal to get their attention: bell, chimes, hand clap, silent raised hand (a la Harry Wong), whatever. Explicitly teach it to the kids at least for the first week, and use it consistently.

    I assigned each student a number starting a couple years ago and it has saved me so many headaches. The most important use is this: because I know their numbers and THEY know their numbers, we always know when a student is missing from the line after recess or during a fire drill. Also, it makes lining up easy and painless....well, almost :).....because they line up in number order.

  4. Have fun! These kids will love you, and some will find their way into your heart forever!

  5. Laurie!!

    I CAN NOT thank you enough for all of these AMAZING tips!!!!!! You better believe I have already printed this out and am creating a checklist for each one. You are awesome!!!!

    You'll be GREAT in Kindergarten :-)

  6. Besides blogs I would try this website, She is great!

    There are a lot of tips and she even has first day lessons plans!

    Good luck. I taught first grade for a year and loved it!