Well, here we are. It's August 1st and we are still on track to begin in-person instruction! I still don't know how I feel about it. Yes, I am SO excited to see my kids and actually be in the same room, but also, nervous. All these restrictions, rules, and PPE, oh my! We're dealing with 5-year-olds, people! Not to mention -- should I be worried about the stupid virus itself? Who knows. I digress.

I am busy as a little bee over here getting all of my ducks in a row and I just wanted to share some of my "must-prep" things that I always do before school even starts, just to make it easier on myself. My future self always says to my past self, "Girl, you're amazing!" It's great for self-esteem boosting, too, see?! 

1. The first is my birthday cups. Starbucks is always so generous every year in donating cups with dome lids. They're awesome and they love teachers, so don't be afraid to ask. I get these little cups, fill them with Dollar Tree trinkets and glorious gems (candy, little party favors, a noisemaker, a pencil, and a mini Play-Doh), top it with some white shredded paper (also Dollar Tree), and a pink or red lollipop. I add these cute little stickers for extra adorableness. (Everything I got is from Dollar Tree and I spent less than $20 for the entire class set.) Then, when it's Suzy Q's birthday, I pop this on her desk, give her a birthday crown, sing happy birthday, and make her day oh-so-special! 


2. My beginning of the year and end of the year gifts. I do these together at the same time. This year, I did some little Target mazes with this cute little tag. I actually found this on another blog and LOVED it, but I couldn't get the template to fit like I wanted it to, so I just made my own. For the end of the year, I always give either bubbles or an (unfrozen) ice pop with a cute tag. This year, I'm going with bubbles because I happen to still have some. I add a little "Blew Me Away" tag and DONE! Then at the end of the year when we are all just burnt out and exhausted and we can SMELL the ocean, I have these ready to go, so I still look like a rockstar. Ha!  (No pic of the bubbles yet, they aren't complete yet.)


3. My pacing guide. I change this every year, but REALLY I think I've got a good system this time. I am always scrambling around looking for these (there are usually multiple, one for ELA, one for Math, one for science/social studies), they're always printed out and lost. I can never find them when I need them. But something I can always find is my trusty little MacBook. So I made a comprehensive one on my Google Drive. Eek! Easily adjustable (because let's get real, whose plans stay the same?!) AND I can share it with my team. AND I always know where it is. This was VERY easy to create -- I just started a new Google Slide document, added a table, added some cute colors and that was really it.



4. My centers plan. I have a year-long plan now since I've been doing this for 9 years now (WHAT?!) I have a plan for math, literacy, early finishers and morning tubs. This year's plans are being tweaked, but at least I have a general idea of where to start. The BEST thing about my Center Planning pages is that all of those little pictures are of the covers where each activity can be found. AND THEY'RE CLICKABLE! So it will take me right to the packet! I save these on my Google Drive under a secure, nonsearchable folder, so I know they're protected. It just makes it SO easy for me to go directly to that pack if, let's say, sweet little Jack decides to EAT one of my game cards and I need to print a new one. (Not that it would ever happen IRL. This is hypothetical, of course.) My math section is empty right now because usually, we share materials for the first week of math, but since we can't do that, I have to rethink it. To be continued....



5. Put together a Surprise Student kit. Anything that you are planning on doing for the first week of school (first day portraits, first day writing sample, first day feelings, any papers you send home to parents in the beginning, etc.) Put a little packet together that includes all of this stuff so that when you get a bonus kid, you are ready for him/her and he/she feels welcome. Typically, I have a big parent packet that includes surveys about the student, welcome letter, info about the class -- you know all that fun stuff. But this year all of that has to be digital, so I've included it on our class website. (You can read about that here.) I can't say that I'm mad about having to make it all digital. It saved me a TON of time, not to mention PAPER. I just used Google Forms for all of the info that I need back. I actually think I'm going to keep it this way forever! And there it is. The silver lining.

So, these are just 5 things that I always do every year before school starts. It makes me feel better knowing that I have at least control over THIS stuff. I love being prepared with at least a rough plan for my overall year as well as a rough idea of how my centers/morning tubs/early finishers (dessert) tubs will go. I know that I won't have to scramble to come up with center ideas, because it's done! I also know I'll be ready if Jillian's mom decides that homeschooling just isn't for her and she's ready to take her chances with Rona. I hope these things help you! 

And now, without further adieu, click here to get my editable birthday stickers, the "A-MAZE-ING" year tag, and the "You Blew Me Away" bubble tag. For freeeee!! Thanks for reading! {Please note that you must have Adobe Reader to edit these tags. It's free and you can get it here.} Enjoy! Happy Back to Schooling!


Leave a comment