Some few weeks from now, it will be about back to school time! Again. So soon?
If you’re an experienced secondary science teacher with all your ducks in a row, this post probably won’t interest you much. But, if you are…
new to teaching
new to science
just looking for something new to try
. . . then, here you go.
I know some teachers who were so nervous during their first day of teaching. Honestly, they have butterflies (usually felt more like pterodactyls) on the first day of school. I know they LOVED teaching, but some are introverted, so they were always pushing themselves outside their comfort zone and the first day was the toughest. But, being prepared made things so much easier for them.
And, since they like to make lists, I’m going to give you my list of 10 things to do BEFORE the first day of school. I developed this based on findings with more experienced teachers over many years of trial and error. I hope it’s helpful.
A Few Days Before the First Day
- Clean and decorate! Wipe everything down, arrange your desks, and hang up a couple of cool posters that are appropriate for the first grading period. Set out some models or lab equipment to make things look interesting and “science-y”. I also LOVE to have some live plants in the room.
- Organize school supplies. For me: grade book, pencils, pens, dry erase markers, printer ink, paper, post-it notes (my favorite school supply of all time), etc. all ready to go. For students: make sure there are plenty of supplies for interactive notebooks and other activities: construction paper, tape, glue stick, scissors, markers. etc. Keep a running of list of last-minute things to buy.
- Get the lab ready. Clean and organize lab stations and storage cabinets. Supplies that were delivered over the summer need to be checked in and properly stored. Make a note of any supplies still needed.
- Textbooks: Check the inventory and prepare procedures for introducing and issuing them to students.
- Read through class rosters. Look for names I can’t pronounce and get help if necessary. (You have no idea what an issue this was for me the first couple of years in Hawaii!)
- Read all Individualized Education Program (IEPs) and be prepared for preferential seating and other accommodations.
- Plan out AT LEAST the first 2 weeks and have copies made and organized for AT LEAST the first 3 days. This is an absolute must! And don’t forget emergency sub plans.
The Day Before the First Day
- Name and number: Make sure my name and room number are easily visible outside the room – make a big poster if necessary.
- Grade book: Have online and hard copy grade books set up. My hard copy is in a small 3-ring binder and goes home with me every night. Seating charts* are printed out for all classes, stapled together, and inside the grade book. Add labels with student names on each desk so they know where to sit on day 1.
- Introduction and Agenda: Write my name, the name of the class, date and daily agenda on the board. Make sure it’s in the same location where it will be every single day this school year. Routines are important!