Planning the First Weeks of School: tips and guidelines

The talk I heard during today's teacher training at the Rockbridge Academy was so good and full of so much material I thought I'd share it here.

The talk was called "The First Two Weeks of Grammar School" by Roy Griffith, grammar school principle at Rockbridge.

The principles (no pun intended) he lays out here are especially useful for the grammar age (preschool-5th grade), but much of what he said can be applied to any classroom setting. For my school in particular (Aletheia Christian School) I am hoping this can be a resource for our teachers there.

Personal Preparation:
--the first key is to be ready spiritually to be in prayer and depending on God.
--make lists
--go in early
--complete easiest tasks first
--touch everything you will be using once, go back and look through things you've used before in case you've forgotten something
--plan for fatigue—get yo sleep
--know yourself and mitigate your weaknesses
--know when to raise the white flag

First impressions:
--be you
--be warm but do not be trifled with
--order their world
--give them a sense of wonder, so they'll want to come back.

The First Day:
--speak slowly
--move slowly
--strive for much/expect little
--teach hardly any material—just implant the routines—and the younger they are the harder it is for them to learn the routine
--reset expectations from last spring

The new student:
-try to meet them before the first day
--communicate with the parents (early, often)
--have a plan for separation crisis.
--preview remediation needs
--assign a buddy and mentor family to be present with the new student

Expect the unexpected:
--missing water bottle
--missing school supplies
--bathroom accidents
--you might even lose a kid!

Week 1, routines and rules:
--teach, train, enforce
--don't assume they know why
--teach and train with questions
--reassure and bless (a lot, publicly and privately)

Communications Home:
--parents are wondering
--send home a first week letter
--send a positive encouraging note home to every students' parents by the first Friday
--logistics...field trip, homework, routines, volunteers, communication...do you have this stuff taken care of
--find a teacher to help with grading or something else that is a detail job—this will free you up to do the more important tasks

--expect shell shock by Friday
--make no special plans for your weekend! Keep life simple for the first month
--cling to the Gospel, the word, and prayer.
--make a point to encourage your colleagues. This will life you up as well

Week two:
Settling in:
--Things that are easy to forget: the gradebook and your long range lesson plan
--habits require consistency
--review, review, review with the kids, both the material in your lessons and your classroom routines

Week 3 and beyond...
--Realize from the start: you will never finish everything. So be patient with yourself and your kids
--Don't try to revise or revamp too much in one year

--There will never be enough time or resources...give yourself grace and cling to Christ.  

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