It’s that time of year! Time to grudgingly think about the upcoming school year. I know, I know…it’s still at least a month before school gets started, but I have some ideas that will help you. These 10 minute tasks will help you spend minimal time now for a maximum return later!
1. Decide on a Theme
This is probably not what you thought you’d see on this list! But, think about how much time you spend in your classroom. I would venture to guess you spend at least 100 hours a month in this space. So, why not make it a place you enjoy being?
Our surroundings can have a huge impact on our attitudes and productivity. Therefore, we need to create environments that we truly enjoy. I’ve always had a hard time narrowing down exactly what type of “theme” I want to use in my classroom. There are just so many options!! If you are just too overwhelmed to change themes this year, that’s totally ok! Just make sure you love your space.
If you want some ideas for beautiful classroom spaces, check out my Homeschool Organization board and my Classroom Organization board on Pinterest. You can also find “Rustic Coastal,” “Rustic Wood,” and “Grey and White” classroom décor in my products.
2. Create a Wish List on TpT
If you’re like me, you have a wish list on TpT about a mile long. However, with the “Back to School” sale usually occurring around the first of August, you can start wish listing all the products that will be helpful in meeting any new required standards as well as the needs of your kiddos.
This will save you tons of time later when you’ll otherwise be engaged in classroom organizing and teaching. Get your wish list prepared now, and don’t forget to consider your new classroom theme as you create your wish list!
3. Leave Feedback for All of Your TpT Purchases
Since we are talking about the “Back to School” sale on TpT, take a few minutes and leave valuable feedback on the purchases you’ve already made. This will ensure that you are banking as many TpT credits as possible. Then you can use those credits to purchase your wish listed items during the sale. Thus, stretching those hard-earned dollars! For more information on how to save money on TpT, check out this post.
4. Decide Now When You Want to be Done Daily
Yes…you read that correctly. You need to have a plan for what time you will be finished every day before you ever start back to school. Are you wondering what on earth I’m talking about?
Well, if you remember from our story of becoming homeschoolers, the first year I went back to teaching in the classroom my boys were in kindergarten and second grade. We spent about 12 hours per day at school. It was absolute torture for all of us, but there were just so many things that needed to be done! I was so overwhelmed and burned out after that first year.
By my third year back in the classroom, I made the decision to leave school between 3:30 and 4:00 every day. Other than in specific instances when I was required to stay late, I left at that time. And, I never regretted that decision.
The same rule applies to homeschooling. If you have a tendency to drag school out all day, and never really feel finished, set a specific end time and stick to it! You’ll be amazed at how much more productive you’ll be in a day. So, do yourself a favor, decide now when you will be finished and walk away! You’ll be so glad you did.
5. Print Out Standards and Pacing Guides
Standards seem to be constantly evolving which means we have to be educated on the newest changes. Therefore, you need to take just a couple of minutes and print out the newest, updated version of your state standards. If you have access to pacing guides, you should also print those out, too.
You might as well bite the bullet and read up on the changes just so that you are aware of anything that will directly affect your teaching and pacing. I know these won’t be nearly as interesting as the 4 books for mamas who want to be better, but they are a necessary evil.
6. Create Name or Number Labels
If you are a classroom teacher, create name labels as soon as you have a class list. Then create number labels. Trust me, you need both, and you need to print at least 10 copies. When I taught in the public schools, we always put number labels in the front of textbooks. This ensured that “Susie” had all the #1 books, “”Johnny” had all the #2 books, and so on. I promise it makes life so much easier.
To determine the numbers, I simply put the kiddos’ names in alphabetical order and assigned a number accordingly. They had that number for everything including books, cubbies, folders, displayed work, etc. This was absolutely vital to my sanity when it came to being departmentalized.
The same rule applies to homeschooling. Obviously, name labels are helpful for book boxes or other personal materials, but number labels can be especially handy when thinking about the order of subjects, independent work, and so on.
7. Create a “Post Your Knowledge” Board
This can be a simple poster board or an elaborate bulletin board, but you need to have a place for your kiddos to post one thing they learned each day. (This is another great place to use your number labels!) You pose a question, post a problem, or create a situation, and your kiddos write an appropriate answer.
My “Post Your Knowledge” poster was divided into squares and numbered 1-24. At the end of each class, I would give my kiddos some sort of a question to answer and then they would post their knowledge on the board beneath their individual numbers. Then when the next class was ending, we would follow the same procedure. They would stick their post-it notes on top of the previous classes’ notes.
In our homeschool, my boys use the number boxes for the dates of the month and post their knowledge for that day. So, by the end of the month, we can see what types of things they’ve learned!
8. Make a List of All the Beginning of School Papers
This list includes the ones you need to create as well as the ones you receive from your school, county, or educational entity. As homeschoolers, we are required to turn in an “Intent to Homeschool” form prior to the beginning of school. I also have to pick up a specific attendance sheet to fill out all year.
As classroom teachers, you will want to include things like: Open House forms, Book Order letters, Expectation forms, Classroom Rules, etc. Be brainstorming those ideas now so that you aren’t scrambling around at the last minute trying to type up a form that you should’ve already copied.
Each of these 10 minute tasks is designed to help you get ahead of the inevitable overwhelm that can happen at the start of a new school year. Take just a few minutes now to ensure your future sanity! I promise, you will be so glad you did.