Whether you’re a grad teacher, or you’ve been in the gig for years, it’s always a great help to yourself – and your students – to start your school year on the right foot. And especially after the mess that 2020 was, I thought a little reminder, or a mindful prompt, might be just what you need! So, if you’re looking for tips for a successful school set up – you’ve come to the right place!
1. Getting (and staying) organised!
It’s something that either floats your boat, or has you rolling your eyes. But deeeep in our souls, we know being organised helps everything run a little more smoothly, and just as importantly, helps us to adapt and pivot in the classroom when we need to! (…which is everyday, amiright??) 😎
When our homes are a schmozzle, our life feels a bit like one too, right? So it makes total sense that the same goes for our classrooms.
It might only mean spending five or ten minutes after school ensuring that everything is in its place and ready for the next day. Better still – including student in this organisational aspect throughout the day not only helps you stay on top of things, but also teaches *them* to take pride in their classrooms! Win/win I say!! 👊🏼
As you can imagine, I’m all about good-lookin’ organisation!! And it’s probably obvious – I’m obsessed with making classroom decor that will assist teachers to create an amazing learning environment, but just as importantly, save teachers time, stress, and keep them organised!!!
If all this talk about getting organised is stirring a little something in your heart, check out some of my favourite (and most helpful IMO!) resources:
2. Rules, rules, rules!
When you’re focusing on a successful school set up, the first few weeks of the school year are usually spent setting classroom routines and expectations. And then the tricky part – upholding them! I’ve found framing classroom rules in a positive way – ‘we sit on the floor nicely’, rather than ‘don’t talk on the mat’ – really helps students to remember what they are being asked to do, rather than them only knowing what they shouldn’t be doing. Creating classroom rules WITH your students helps them to feel a sense of responsibility and means they are more likely to hold themselves accountable.
I’ve always found it helpful to keep rules clear, simple and not too long a list! I like to focus on kindness, safety and respect. If you’re teaching the younger years, you could always make these values as suggestions, then with your students, brainstorm what these ideas look like in action. Then together you could turn them into rules.
I also like to use a phrase that can be repeated to and by the children over the course of the year. It might look something like: “We take care of ourselves, each other, our school and our world.” If in the first few weeks, you break it down with the kids, and they understand what ‘taking care’ of these important aspects of their lives looks like, it can be used later on as a gentle reminder when they might be about to make a poor choice.
Just to make life a little easier, and your classroom a whole lot more beautiful, I’ve got several Editable Classroom Poster Sets available in my store (as well as in my Decor Bundles!) which you can use to display your classroom rules.
3. Kids wanna play all day!
We all know how important it is, but sometimes we can get lost in the busyness of our days, and forget to include some opportunities for play in our planning.
So here is a little reminder for you as to why play is just so beneficial.
– Play helps reduce stress. Just because they’re smaller than us, doesn’t mean kids don’t get stressed easily. We’re all humans. Play releases feel-good hormones, putting your students in a positive, joyful mood. Positivity is contagious, so spread it around like glitter!!!
– What I love most about play? Our students are still learning while they play, they just don’t realise it! Play also improves brain function and helps boost their creativity.
– Play allows students to build interpersonal skills and strengthen their connections with their classmates. It allows them to practice problem solving, compromising and negotiation skills. In a sense, play at a young age is setting up our students *for life*!
– Playing with your students is also a beautiful way to develop your relationship with them as their teacher. It also gives you a peek into the way their minds work. As adults, we don’t often make time for playing, so we forget how therapeutic it can be. To begin with, it can feel a little awkward, but like many things, the more you do it, the easier it gets!!
And if you feel like you might forget about scheduling play? I can guarantee you, your students wont forget! 🤣
I like to plan out my days so that the students can see a visual representation of what’s on – so why not add a visual reminder for yourself!
My Editable Visual Timetables include over 120 various daily classroom activities and subjects to assist you in visually displaying an outline for the school day so that your children will be able to keep track of their day. It also comes with clock faces (digital and analogue) for you to display beside each activity so that your students will know what time each activity begins and ends.
4. Get to know your kids!
Of course, as teachers, we spend the entire year getting to know our students, before farewelling and entrusting them into another teacher’s hands.
The first few days and weeks of school are imperative for developing strong, positive relationships with students. You have the chance to *really* get to know them. And the easiest way to do this? Find out what they love. Their favourite memory from their summer holidays. What makes them tick. And, then going forward, make a point to engage with them about the things they love. It’ll make them feel like a million dollars! And you’ll be pretty much guaranteeing yourself a successful school set up!
A simple way of uncovering more about your students is with my Back to School Activities Pack. Here you’ll not only find templates for exploring each students’ strengths and goals, but also activities around your school’s values, and helping students along with their morning routines. It’s a whopping 54 pages of back to school goodness right there!
5. A little bit of self care goes a long, long way!
There’s no tired like ‘Teacher Tired’, but Term 1 Teacher Tired is like no other. Having up to 20 kids in your care for hours at a time, that’ll exhaust you! Managing their varying energy levels, mixed emotions, lessons, interruptions – a day in the life of a teacher can be an absolute whirlwind.
My advice? After years of learning the hard way (!) – give yourself 10 minutes in the morning to do something that calms you. Listening to a guided meditation on the Headspace app. Some cat-cow poses. Time to drink your coffee mindfully. Whatever works for you. Just make it a habit. Something that you know will fill your cup in the morning, before you start pouring out to others.
As teachers, we’re great at following a plan and sticking to a schedule. So don’t forget to schedule in some time to do what you love – exercising, getting crafty and creative, socializing, bath and candles, shopping, Netflix – whatever it is that lights you up and fills your cup.
Be kind to yourself, friend.
Do you have any other helpful tips for a successful school set up? Feel free to comment below, I’d love to hear them!!