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Back to the Top Teaching Blog
August 2, 2016

Ready, Set, Teach: Back to School We Go!

By Nicole Kent
Grades 3–5

    I have been teaching for 17 years and yet, each time that I begin a new school year, I still get butterflies and can't sleep the night before. I'm not sure who is more excited — the students or me! I am Nicole Kent and welcome to my fun and exhilarating third grade class. This year, as I prepare my classroom (and myself) for the new crop of smiling (possibly scared) students, I am also preparing for my first time as a member of the Scholastic Top Teaching blog team. I am eager to share with you my process of getting ready in the hope that some of my steps might make your own back-to-school preparations a little easier. I'm very excited to begin this journey with you!

    The teachers at our school were told that we would not be allowed to come into our classrooms until August 1 to allow our hardworking cleaning crew to make our classrooms and school sites sparkling for staff and students. My school year begins on August 10, and this is how my classroom looks today (insert horrified emoji face)!

    Clearly, I have my work cut out for me! To get done what I need to in the amount of time allotted, I need to have a clear plan and stick to it.

    As soon as you have access to your classroom and have arranged your furniture, put up the background for your bulletin boards. Here's a helpful tip: use bulletin board paper or fabric and borders that will work throughout the year. Use a basic background color that doesn't scream out a particular season. This is something that you do not want to bother with as the school year rolls on. When you change the students' work or projects on the board, that is all you want to change. This makes for quick transformation of the classroom decor and keeps the focus where it belongs: on the students' work.

     

    Make your classroom inviting with a “Welcome to Our Class” display. Make it cheerful and bright. I always have a door banner up to encourage students that when they enter my classroom they can be whomever they want to be. This is an example of what I will be using this year:

     

    Make your personal space pretty. The day before school starts, place a bright bouquet of flowers on your desk. This is advice from my grandmother. She told me that a teacher should always have flowers on her/his desk on the first day of school, back-to-school night, and open house. I try to have them on my desk every week. This just starts my day on a happy note.

    My husband still sends me a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils on the first day of school!

    What better way to break the ice with your students than by putting a little gift on each child’s desk to welcome them to class. I keep my eyes open for the back-to-school special sales on school supplies or you could hit your local dollar stores for markers. Just add a label and bow and voilà!

     

    Stock up your mini fridge in your classroom with bottled water and have extra snacks such as fruit or granola bars in case your students forget one. This is a good idea for you too! During those first frenzied days you may find yourself running on empty. Grab a snack at recess/break time to keep your energy up.

    Pick out a week's worth of outfits. Take pictures of them with your iPad or phone and then pick one out each day. The first week of school is going to be a crazy one. You will be so happy that you have one less thing to think about. When these first days are over, you are going to want to just go home, crawl into bed, and sleep!

    Make your lunch the night before. The last thing you want is to be rushed in the morning. Make a nutritious lunch before you go to bed. Then, put a sticky note labeled "lunch" on your front door to be sure you don't leave without it.

     

    Get to school early so that you are not rushed. Go over your lesson plans for the day and get yourself mentally prepared, because when the first bell rings the students and parents will rush into the classroom overjoyed with excitement.

    When you open the door to greet each student as they enter your class, remember to smile. First impressions are so important — and I'm hoping I've left a good one on you!

     

    A Little About Me

    When I am not teaching I enjoy spending time with my wonderful family: my husband Terry, daughter Chelsie, and twin boys Cooper and Logan. Our family loves to travel. Our most recent trip was to Walt Disney World and a cruise to the Bahamas. We love Notre Dame football and attend many games a year. 

    Chelsie is very passionate about her work with the Thirst Project. Since 2011 she has been involved with this nonprofit organization that builds wells in third world countries for villages that do not have access to clean water. She was awarded the Power of Youth Award in 2013 for all her efforts to build a well in Swaziland, Africa for St. Lucy’s Priority High School and I couldn't be more proud.

    Cooper and Logan are both avid baseball players and just recently finished their first All-Star Season. It is not unusual to find a rooting section (including their entire family!) in the stands just for these two. They love all sports, especially Notre Dame Football.

     

     

     

     

     

    I have been teaching for 17 years and yet, each time that I begin a new school year, I still get butterflies and can't sleep the night before. I'm not sure who is more excited — the students or me! I am Nicole Kent and welcome to my fun and exhilarating third grade class. This year, as I prepare my classroom (and myself) for the new crop of smiling (possibly scared) students, I am also preparing for my first time as a member of the Scholastic Top Teaching blog team. I am eager to share with you my process of getting ready in the hope that some of my steps might make your own back-to-school preparations a little easier. I'm very excited to begin this journey with you!

    The teachers at our school were told that we would not be allowed to come into our classrooms until August 1 to allow our hardworking cleaning crew to make our classrooms and school sites sparkling for staff and students. My school year begins on August 10, and this is how my classroom looks today (insert horrified emoji face)!

    Clearly, I have my work cut out for me! To get done what I need to in the amount of time allotted, I need to have a clear plan and stick to it.

    As soon as you have access to your classroom and have arranged your furniture, put up the background for your bulletin boards. Here's a helpful tip: use bulletin board paper or fabric and borders that will work throughout the year. Use a basic background color that doesn't scream out a particular season. This is something that you do not want to bother with as the school year rolls on. When you change the students' work or projects on the board, that is all you want to change. This makes for quick transformation of the classroom decor and keeps the focus where it belongs: on the students' work.

     

    Make your classroom inviting with a “Welcome to Our Class” display. Make it cheerful and bright. I always have a door banner up to encourage students that when they enter my classroom they can be whomever they want to be. This is an example of what I will be using this year:

     

    Make your personal space pretty. The day before school starts, place a bright bouquet of flowers on your desk. This is advice from my grandmother. She told me that a teacher should always have flowers on her/his desk on the first day of school, back-to-school night, and open house. I try to have them on my desk every week. This just starts my day on a happy note.

    My husband still sends me a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils on the first day of school!

    What better way to break the ice with your students than by putting a little gift on each child’s desk to welcome them to class. I keep my eyes open for the back-to-school special sales on school supplies or you could hit your local dollar stores for markers. Just add a label and bow and voilà!

     

    Stock up your mini fridge in your classroom with bottled water and have extra snacks such as fruit or granola bars in case your students forget one. This is a good idea for you too! During those first frenzied days you may find yourself running on empty. Grab a snack at recess/break time to keep your energy up.

    Pick out a week's worth of outfits. Take pictures of them with your iPad or phone and then pick one out each day. The first week of school is going to be a crazy one. You will be so happy that you have one less thing to think about. When these first days are over, you are going to want to just go home, crawl into bed, and sleep!

    Make your lunch the night before. The last thing you want is to be rushed in the morning. Make a nutritious lunch before you go to bed. Then, put a sticky note labeled "lunch" on your front door to be sure you don't leave without it.

     

    Get to school early so that you are not rushed. Go over your lesson plans for the day and get yourself mentally prepared, because when the first bell rings the students and parents will rush into the classroom overjoyed with excitement.

    When you open the door to greet each student as they enter your class, remember to smile. First impressions are so important — and I'm hoping I've left a good one on you!

     

    A Little About Me

    When I am not teaching I enjoy spending time with my wonderful family: my husband Terry, daughter Chelsie, and twin boys Cooper and Logan. Our family loves to travel. Our most recent trip was to Walt Disney World and a cruise to the Bahamas. We love Notre Dame football and attend many games a year. 

    Chelsie is very passionate about her work with the Thirst Project. Since 2011 she has been involved with this nonprofit organization that builds wells in third world countries for villages that do not have access to clean water. She was awarded the Power of Youth Award in 2013 for all her efforts to build a well in Swaziland, Africa for St. Lucy’s Priority High School and I couldn't be more proud.

    Cooper and Logan are both avid baseball players and just recently finished their first All-Star Season. It is not unusual to find a rooting section (including their entire family!) in the stands just for these two. They love all sports, especially Notre Dame Football.

     

     

     

     

     

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