Surviving The First Month of School by Putting Kids First

first-day-of-schoolTip #1:

Use your organizational skills to ensure that your classroom time is dedicated to student engagement. Sometimes this means over-planning; it’s the tip to making sure that you have lessons and activities in your hip pocket and ready to go. One way I’ve accomplished this is by using a technique called the Anchor Activity. Whether you’re a kindergarten teacher or a high school teacher, having Anchor Activities ready and sitting on the sideline can be the difference between chaos and organized enrichment activities. It’s important that you weave the expectation of this activity into your opening year procedures. It prevents idle hands and can be a constructive activity for those students who complete an assignment early. Anchor Activities are part of a Differentiated Classroom. You can read more about Differentiated Instruction from KDP here:

Other Anchor Activities Links:


Tip #2:

Think about Classroom Management. KDP(Kappa Delta Pi) offers many webinars on the ins and outs of classroom management. If you’ve missed these, they are available for review. Here’s the link: .

Classroom management issues are best managed by developing engaging lessons with embedded classroom norms; what are the students expected to do every day when they arrive in your classroom? Elementary teachers may want coats and backpacks stowed before retrieving their morning folder of work. High school teachers may want students to follow a routine of completing a Do Now /Warm Up activity while you take attendance. Routines and procedures make for a smoothly running classroom. In fact, establishing routines and procedures are core evaluation points for teachers in each of the New Teacher Evaluation Models like Marzano or Danielson.

I think it’s also important to note that a smoothly running classroom is not necessarily one where all students are quietly working at their desk. In fact, classroom procedures are the cornerstone of effective group activities and collaborative assignments. Each student, understanding your expectations, knows their job and what to do if they have a question, problem, or finish early. Here’s a link to an article that may also help you out.


Tip #3:

Identify your communication methods. What does that mean?

• Bulletin Boards are used to communicate to the students and classroom visitors. Plan out how you intend to use this space to prevent clutter.

• Draft a Letter To Parents. As a new teacher, I’d run it past your supervisor or administrator. There’s nothing worse that misstating information, regardless of your positive intention, and having to retract it. For example, you may want to give parents with a clear choice of their preferred method of communication: text, email, newsletter, website or phone. However, you may be working in a district that prohibits the use of Twitter or Facebook pages. This is something you want to know ahead of time. Your school may use a standard form which could save you a lot of headaches.

• Set up your classroom and do a practice run through of how you see your average day unfolding. This will give you an opportunity to determine if you have your resources ( and the student resources) in the best locations. Logistical malfunctions can be the downfall of any lesson thought to be well planned.

For more on best practices:

Join NJASCD where  new NJ Educators stay current !

Read more about The Whole Child Philosophy at ASCD Whole Child Initiative.



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