13 things to do before the first day of school #b2s

rodney-back-to-school-cameo1Since it’s the first day of August, I figured it’s time to list 13 things to do before the first day of school. That doesn’t mean you need to do all of them, or even a majority of them, but hopefully there is one or two tips that you find beneficial. Do you have any back to school rituals? Let me know in the comments!

I’m going to do a separate post for each item on eduk8.me, so this list is the Cliff Notes version, with more information coming. I’ll be updating each of the items with a link to their post as they’re published, so be sure to check back.

1. Create a spreadsheet for student information

A spreadsheet shared with the class is a great way to privately collect and share emails, website accounts, and other pieces of information unique to each student. By selectively protecting ranges, you can collect information throughout the school year. You could use a Google Form, but since you may not know all of the information you are going to collect at the start of the year, sharing a spreadsheet may be more efficient.

2. Setup a Google Voice number

A Google Voice number gives you a mobile phone number separate from your personal number. This is a number you can give out to parents as a way to contact you, either over voice or by texting. Parents are more likely to read and respond to text messages than most forms of communication.

Even if you are not a Google Apps for Education school, you can still use Google Voice with a personal Google account.

3. Set up your classroom internet home

Where is the main digital location of your class? Is it a blog? Your learning management system? Once you decide, communicate that information to your class, so they always know where the information about the class will be posted for the upcoming school year.

4. Select a method of group communications

Having some sort of electronic announcement procedure in place will cut down on miscommunications throughout the year. There are a few ways to do this, such as Remind, a Twitter account, or even a Google Group.

5. Substitute folder in the cloud

By placing your substitute folder in the cloud, you can share classroom materials quickly and easily from anywhere. This comes in very handy when you’re sick and may not be able to make it into school to complete plans.

6. Create a first day newsletter to be sent home

The first day newsletter could include your class website and social media account information, along with guidelines on what will and will not be posted. A syllabus for the class for the upcoming year and classroom rules could also be included. Most importantly, the newsletter should welcome your student’s parents into your classroom.

7. Lay out your classroom

There are several tools that you can use to layout your classroom. Be sure to think about how students will move through your classroom, and what volume levels would be possible for the different areas.

8. Create a daily check off list, steps that need to be done every day

I’ve found that a check list helps with a lot of things, and your daily routine is one of them. By listing the items you do every day, you can efficiently complete those tasks and reduce the cognitive load of remembering everything you need to do in a day.

9. Create a folder for the current school year (16-17)

I always create a folder for the current school year, and start it empty. When I re-use stuff from the previous year (or years) I make a copy of it and place it in the current year folder. This allows me to modify it for the current year, yet always let me see how I used it in previous years.

10. Social media accounts – build your PLN

If you haven’t already signed up with Twitter, do so and start following teachers in your grade level or subject area. Also, check out Participate Learning’s Twitter chat schedule to find Twitter chats that appeal to you.

11. Map out the major events and deadlines for the upcoming school year, include pacing guides for your classes

When you map out the major milestones for the year, it helps give you a better picture of what will be accomplished and help plan. Besides milestones, you may want to add holidays or other special days that you want to acknowledge and use in your classroom.

12. Schedule the first week of lesson plans in your LMS or on your website

Get the first week planned out, so on that first day you’re not already stressing out.

13. Plan something fun for yourself to do before school starts!

Do something totally fun for yourself before school starts. One thing I do every year is watch Back to School with Rodney Dangerfield.

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