Birthday Committee
Make 20 to 25 birthday surprise sacks. I buy colored sacks and fill them with pencils, a pen, a fun eraser, and a little toy, and I staple a Birthday Certificate to the top. It’s really easy and it saves a ton of time!
—Allison S.

Super Spreadsheets
I put my new students’ grades and test scores in a spreadsheet to create flexible ability groups, and then color-code three categories: on grade level, below grade level, above grade level. This data also helps me pair all students with a heterogeneous learning buddy: one slightly stronger than the other.
—Theresa M.

The Three R’s
Relax, recharge, and rummage sales. I love to go to retired teachers’ rummage sales. You can find things you need for next year and pick the brain of the retired teacher having the sale, asking what worked.
—Ellen J.

Sick-Day Saver
In case of emergency or sickness, I prepare a sub folder or tub, making sure there’s lots of independent work. (I provide three to five days’ worth.) I do each day in a different-color folder.
—Kathleen H. 

New Student, No Problem
One of the best things I ever did was to prepare for surprise new students. When I make materials at the beginning of the year, I create five extra sets and store in baggies.
—Sherry F. G.

Take Note
While you can still remember, jot down two lists: “Things That Worked” and “Things That Didn’t Work.” Analyze everything, from management to assignments to parent e-mails to bulletin boards to homework packets.
—Beverly P.

Take Yourself to Task
Pick one thing that you really want to become an expert at. Then, break it into subtopics, and work away. For example, if you chose class management, then you would look at procedures, transitions, and discipline approaches. It seems simple, but it has made me a better teacher every year.
—Kimberly M. 

Magic of Reading
Read children’s books. The Newbery award winners are a great place to start.
—Jennifer R.

News Brief
Create a class newsletter template that you’ll use for the year.
—Katie W.

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