In between enjoying my time off, I have been getting ready for next year. Even though new my fourth graders won't be there until after Labor Day, I actually got started the week after my former kiddos left! I don't mind giving up some vacation time to devote to school; it's such a nice contrast to be able to pace myself instead of feeling rushed the week before.
After everything was packed up, I started looking over my photos to plan my shopping trips, which I will write about later this summer. Over on my other blog I've been writing about "Summer Projects" that are all about updating several areas of my classroom to improve the look and organization of our daily work.
I've also started printing, laminating, and one of those tasks that is one of the most time consuming (but somehow gratifying!) each summer, which is personalizing the space for this group of kids. All the name tags, folders, bulletin board name plates and labels require names. And I know, fourth graders can write their names on a lot of items like notebooks and folders. However I happen to enjoy writing them myself. It's a small way to model my expectations for neat printing, give them a taste of things to come with carefully written cursive letters, and it helps me remember who's in my class more easily, even if I can't match names with faces until the first day.
So for now, all the printing, laminating, cutting and handwriting names will continue each summer. I've created a to do list for myself so I can stay on track. Just because I enjoy a leisurely pace doesn't mean I want to waste time with more than one trip to the laminating machine! My Back to School to do List is free and editable if you're interested in getting a system in writing that you don't have to have to think about much from one year to the next (other than some updating).
A final tip I have for you if you're like me, and you like using some of your summer vacation to prepare for a smoother school year: Make extra EVERYTHING. In the above picture I have at least 5 blank name tags, 5 blank leaves for my Welcome Back bulletin board, and so on. There are at least 3 good reasons for this:
- The laminator inevitably eats something.
- The class lists inevitably change. I know, some teachers feel that names should not go on things until those lists are finalized. However I feel it's much less stressful to write 1 or 2 names 10 times a few days before school starts than have to write the entire class's names on everything a couple days before.
- New students inevitably join our class later in the year, often with very little advance notice. I keep an envelope titled "New Student Materials" in which I toss all my extras that I make at the same time as everyone else. This, along with my New Student Orientation List has significantly cut down on the stress of getting that phone call from the office, "You have a new student coming in tomorrow." Now I can devote my energy into thinking about how to integrate him/her socially and academically instead of having to reprint a leaf for a bulletin board. My New Student Orientation List is free for a limited time, and of course it's editable.
Do you have any tricks and tips for using summertime efficiently?