Back to School Planning Resources
Hey, y'all. With summer upon us, it's time to start planning out the first few days of school--after the extensive days at the beach, multiple naps, and a series or two on Netflix that is.
Anyway, it can be hard to get started planning if you're new to teaching (or if you're so wiped out from this year that you've forgotten how you started the year in the first place), so I compiled a list of my back to school planning resources to get you going.
Getting started on the right foot at the beginning of the year is essential for a successful school year. First, I plan out all the routines and procedures my students need to know in order for our days to go smoothly.
Then, I work out how I can teach each of these things in the first couple weeks of school. There are so many things to cover, but day one should also focus on making sure everyone feels comfortable and safe. My first year teaching, I had so many things planned for the first day and no idea how long any of it would take. Now, I know how much we can realistically get done on day one. Of course, I always have a few extra things to do just in case some things move quickly.
I always, always, always have great books to start us out with. Below is a list of books that I have on hand and ready for the first few days, but I'm also on the look out for new titles. Nothing screams fun like having a student yell out, "We read this book last year!" on day one. This list includes both "welcome to school" books as well as social skills books.
Okay, we've got our list of procedures, our realistic plan for day one, and some books to get us started. Now it's time to map out the school year. The best laid plans begin with the end in mind. You don't plan your trip to the beach without knowing where the beach is--you have to know where you're going. You also shouldn't plan a unit until you know what the success indicators are--what your students are supposed to know. So...at the beginning of year, I pull out our curriculum maps and put them into a spreadsheet. Each map is on it's own PDF and none of the planning people talk to each other, so it's our job to line it all up.
I start with a general calendar, then add in each subject area and approximately when each unit begins and ends. When it's all laid out like this, it's easy to see which units overlap making it easy to plan lessons that integrate different subject areas. Anytime I can integrate subjects, I do. It gives us so much more bang for the buck.
I'm also big on using themes to tie everything together. I don't always have themes, but when when we do, the kids get really into it and make connections so much faster. There are so many ways to incorporate themes into your curriculum without it being too simple. For instance, if the theme is apples, we could be exploring apples with our five senses, measuring apples or adding seeds, reading books about apples, exploring their life cycle, planting seeds and writing how-to's on keeping them alive, and so many other things. It shouldn't just be about the cute manipulatives or crafts. Those have a time and a place, but the meat of the learning should be much deeper.
Each of the themes we use gets added to the planner tool above. It helps me stay organized and keep it all together in one place. If you'd like a printable version of all of these things and a link to your own copy of the year long planner, just click here.
And if you're curious about how I plan out each unit, you can check out the Planning for Independent Learning course here. It is a game changer!
Anyway, thanks for stopping by and hope these tools were helpful. If you haven't grabbed your copy of the checklists yet, please do so. I made them just for you!
I'm always adding new things to the blog and to my Teachers Pay Teachers store so stop by often or give me a follow to see what's new.