Building a Foundation for Success in Your Classroom

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Teachers WBAT use the provided documents to support their preparation of their classrooms for the beginning of the school year.

Big Idea

The resources in this lesson can be used by teachers at the beginning of the school year to build a foundation for success in their classroom and improve communication with the students' families at your Back to School Night event.

Setting Up Your Classroom

25 minutes

Hint #1 - By placing Desk Numbers(word doc) at each student's seat, I am able to quickly assign students to collaborative groups, take attendance, and keep track of classroom supplies.  I also rely on the second set of Desk Number (sample picture) that identify the lab groups.  The lab group numbers allow me to easily keep inventory of lab supplies during lab investigations.  

Hint #2 - I also have a box for missed work set up by date.  There are 31 folders in the box which are numbered to represent the days of a month.  Students know that upon their return from an absence they need to check the box for any handouts that were distributed while they were gone.

Hint #3 - A Student Work Station is also helpful to keep students organized and on-task.  I try to keep two staplers, a tape dispenser, a three-hole punch, rulers, calculators, and extra pens and paper for my students to use.  This feature allows my students to be more productive and not waste time due to lack of supplies.

Hint #4 - It seems so simple, but signs to notify students as to which supplies are needed each day help to eliminate classroom distractions and preserve precious instruction time.  For example, theBring Your Book Sign or the Bring Your Workbook Sign quickly communicate to the students what is necessary for class each day without interruptions.

Hint #5 - A colorful Welcome Sign will put the students at ease on the first day. 

Handouts for Students

30 minutes

In the computer-age very few things are printed any more, but I still insist that a few handouts are distributed to the students.  The biggest reason is that parents are expecting papers to come home on the first few days of school with important announcements.  To keep with this tradition, I print out the documents in this section and will post on our class website for future use.

I have also included the Biology Syllabus which is a dynamic document that changes from year to year as I reassess the students' needs.  I have found that providing a detailed syllabus at the beginning of the year allows the students to clearly understand course expectations and will enable a more enjoyable experience for all stakeholders.

The Daily Bell Question Sheet is a document that we will use every day in Biology class.  Students come to expect our "Bell Question" at the start of every class period.  The Bell Question will review the content from the day before or connect to prior knowledge as the foundation is being laid for a new content topic.  The Bell Question is a time for students to forget other distractions and focus on their Biology studies.  I have also found that while students complete their Bell Question, I can work with other students who have individual needs or questions.  Students will then review the Bell Question with their neighbor or as a whole group as the content topic dictates.

The last document that I distribute during the first week of school is a Current Event Report  I am passionate about connecting students with current progress made in the scientific community.  It is crucial that educators make the effort to expose students to the latest and greatest discoveries.  The Current Event Report is an opportunity for students to identify and area of Biology that is of interest and then bring it back to the classroom and share with the entire class.  Students enjoy the freedom to select their own topic to explore and relish in the ability to educate their peers.  The possibilities for this project or limitless.

Back to School Night Tool Box

5 minutes

Back to School Night is a time to have clear communication with your students' families and construct the foundation for a successful school year.  As a new educator, we seem to be intimidated by this experience due to our nerves but as confidence builds, Back to School Night becomes a tool to empower your role as an educator and unite efforts with your students' families.  The most important aspect of Back to School Night is establish the best form of communication between yourself and your students.  I also like to emphasize responsibilities that involve the families such as nightly homework expectations, unit assessment preparation, and possible research projects.  Notifying parents early of their role in their student's experience in your class helps to foster a collaborative effort and will reduce issues later on in the year.  I welcome students to attend this evening event but at my school site, the Back to School Night event is geared toward focusing on teacher-parent communication.  

I make sure to post my annual Back to School Night Presentation on our class website for families who could not attend.

I also like to keep a Sign In Sheet so I can follow-up with families that were not able to attend.  By initiating a follow-up families quickly realize your level of concern for the well-being of their student! The sign-in sheet also helps later in the year if an issue comes up, you can always reference if a family attended and remind them that this topic was covered at Back to School Night in effort to minimize the concern.  The sign-in sheet is another effort to create clear communication with your students' families.