Elementary School Teacher Tips

Stay organized, and make your first year teaching successful.

As you start your first year as an elementary school teacher, on the top of your list of things to do should be, "Get to know the support staff." That is anyone you will call on for help during the year. Of course the principals are important, but who are you going to call when the toilet overflows or a student gets sick in the middle of class? Who is going to prepare the lunch you will buy or make sure you have enough tables and chairs for all of your children? Who is going to get you a sub when you have to call in sick? Those people can make or break your year. You don't have to bake them cookies, although they would enjoy them; just introduce yourself and say hello during the day. It is amazing how helpful someone can be when they feel appreciated.

Always have the names and contact numbers of your students' parents at your fingertips. This can be easily accomplished with an index box and note cards. Place each of the students' names, addresses, birthdays, contact numbers, bus numbers and allergies or medicines on their respective cards. When you need any of this information, all you have to do is grab your box and not a huge file.

Make your own classroom files. The ones in the office are filled with all of the important and official records. The ones that you keep in your classroom can be less formal. Keep examples of work and test grades. Always keep copies of notes you have sent home. Then keep the response. Keep a copy of formal and informal yearly assessments. All of this stuff can be used during parent-teacher conferences.

Label all of your personal belongings. You don't want to get your things mixed up with things that belong to the school. Plus, if you let someone borrow your materials, they will know to whom they should return them.

Keep a box or desk drawer with emergency supplies; flashlight, hairbrush, lotion, screwdriver, hammer, etc. You want to be able to take care of the simple things without having to wait.

Devise a filing system. When you make or find something that is good, file it away for next year. If you teach the same grade each year, your system could be based on weeks. Number your files week 1, 2, etc., and put what you do week by week in them. You can also file according to months or seasons. It does not matter how you do it. What matters is that it gets done and that you can understand it.

Do the same thing with your books. Shelve them so you can find what you need easily. Alphabetical order by author or title always works. You can also shelve by topics or reading levels. Using tubs is a good way to keep books in order. Label each tub with the type of book that you or a student will find inside. Make a running list of all of the books you have and the way you are shelving them. This will help you keep track of them and know where to look when you need one.

Collect copy paper boxes, and use them to store monthly materials. Label each box with the month, and only put things for that month inside. For January's box, you might put that month's bulletin board boarder, winter decorations, pictures, wall hangings, and paper snowflakes.

Have a set of mailboxes for student work. Instead of trying to send home papers every day, do it once a week. Designate a day when all work will be sent home. Make sure you use the same day each week. Give each student a folder, and have them check their mailbox on the assigned day. Send only important papers or notes home on a daily basis. Inside the folder, label the pockets, "Keep at Home, Return to School."

The more organized you are in your classroom, the easier your year will be. Save what you know you will use again and get rid of the rest.

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