"Been There, Done That" Tips & Ideas: Making the Most of Summer Prep and Planning
Teachers share four strategies for preparing for the first day of school
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
Whether you have two days, two weeks, or two months during the summer to prepare for the first day of school, the time goes by too fast. Discover how other new teachers have managed to get all the essentials done before the bell.
In the summer before your first year of teaching, what did you do to get ready?
"I started by measuring and drawing a diagram of the classroom and deciding how I wanted to set it up. I figured out how many bulletin boards I needed to decorate, the content materials I needed for them, and which space would work best for seasonal decorations and student work. I posted rules and what I would be using as our behavior management program. Once I got my class list, I worked on getting student names up around the room, on desks, and on the word wall. I wrote a welcome letter and mailed it to each of my students. I prepared my grade book with student names, a schedule for student of the week, and parent phone numbers. I worked a long time getting ready for school and was probably a little obsessive about being prepared."
–Carolyn Pratt, Grantsville, Utah
"As soon as I found out in July that I had the job, I met with the principal to get my keys and be shown my classroom. Luckily, I had done a long-term substitute position at the school so I was very familiar with the building. The first two times I went in, I could do nothing more than sit at the empty desk, look at my completely bare room, and absorb it. It really didn't hit me until my third or fourth visit with a few things that I started to envision how I wanted the room to look. I knew the teacher I was replacing, and so I met with her several times to receive materials that she was no longer going to need. She also provided me with all her lesson plans so at least I had something from which to springboard my own lesson plans."
"To prepare for my first year of teaching, I went to the classroom and contacted the previous teacher about the materials she left that she wanted to sell. I purchased them and began furiously cleaning and rearranging everything to have things set up the way I wanted. I took a look at classes around the building to see which things worked that I would want to do."
–Erica Jaramillo, West Des Moines, Iowa
"During the summer I purchased things for my classroom, but I wasn't able to get into the building until a few days before school started. So I scrambled those days to get everything done, working about 12 hours a day. We had open house the first morning of school, so I had to prepare all the necessary information for the parents on top of opening day activities to get to know my students."
–Sarah Magnafichi, Elk Grove Village, Illinois
"I spent hours getting my room ready. I made pockets for the back of each seat. I organized the mess of stuff I inherited and tried to get creative with the space I had to work with, and do it with zero dollars. I did my best to map out a curriculum. I talked to my mentor teacher and team. I made some lesson plans and daily plans for the first two weeks of school. I poured over the daily routines and schedules I wanted to implement."
–Andrea Despain, Pleasant Grove, Utah
For more teacher tips and winning ideas on a variety of topics, check out Scholastic's monthly Winning Ideas Contest.