Making Students & Parents Feel Welcome

Creating a warm & welcoming classroom environment is an important part of any teacher's job.  Establishing an open line of communication with parents should also be a Back to School priority.
The day I get my class list, I send a handwritten postcard to each student.  I introduce myself as their new teacher and tell them how excited I am to meet them!  Over the years, parents have told me how much this note has meant to their child.  Receiving snail mail is so rare these days, and it really gets the kiddos excited about the new school year.  My first year teaching I had 53 Kindergarteners (26 in the morning and 27 in the afternoon).  My hand hurt after writing so many postcards, but it was worth it!  :)

The only problem with postcards is you don't get a lot of space to write... and my handwriting is chunky.  #teacherproblems  Instead of sending postcards, try sending an All About the Teacher flyer to your students.  You can include pictures of you and your family/pets.  Introduce yourself by sharing what you love about your classroom and what you are most excited about.  Let the students know you can't wait to meet them.  Include a list of "Favorites" so the kiddos can learn a little bit more about their new teacher.
Invite your students to come and meet you at the school's Open House or Meet the Teacher night.  (Hopefully the front office has a handout with details that you can include in the envelope.)

What does your school call the day where families come to meet you before school begins?  Meet the Teacher night?  Open House?  Back to School night?  Porch Party?  Usually they drop off their school supplies, find their classroom, and say hello to the teacher.  Every school calls it something different.  What is it called in your neck of the woods?

The First Day of School: How are your students getting home?

You've been busy preparing for the first day of school all summer long!  The 1st day is going to be amazing, and when the bell rings at the end of the first day, you will be SO EXCITED that you survived it!  :)  Here is something you may or may not have considered...
How will your students get home on the 1st day of school?
You are probably going to have parents drop their kids off to your classroom on the first morning.  As they are waving goodbye, they will holler to you... "Oh ya!  Miss Campbell... I forgot to tell you that Ben's Grandpa will pick him up after school today.  Normally, he will ride Bus #22, but today Grampy will pick him up."  After the third or fourth parent does this, your mind will be spinning, and you won't remember if Ben is supposed to ride Bus #22 or go to parent pick-up!  Trust me... dismissal is CHAOS on the 1st day of school because many parents do something different on the 1st day of school than normal.  Maybe they want to get a picture of their kiddo after school or they are too nervous to let their child ride the bus on the first day.

Here is my advice to you.  When parents come for Meet the Teacher night, keep two lists.  One list will be "Transportation for the 1st Day of School" and the other list will be "Regular Transportation."  You can put these lists at the sign-in table, or keep them on a clipboard and ask each individual parent.  If a child does not show up for Meet the Teacher, CALL THE PARENTS and find out how the child will get home on the first day of school!
Chart, list, graph for 1st day of school transportation
Chart for car riders, bus riders, daycare, walkers
(These forms are part of my Meet the Teacher Night resource on TpT.)
My next piece of advice is write the child's mode of transportation on their name tag.  You are likely going to be giving kiddos name tags all week, so put "Bus #22", "Walker," or "Car Rider" on their name tag.  If they get a little lost at dismissal, somebody can easily help them find their way.  The teacher will have the master list, but if little Ben is lost, his name tag will help another teacher get him to the right place.
Add bus rider, car rider, walker, etc. to student name tags during the first week of school
Back to school name tags
 Putting tags on backpacks is especially helpful for Pre-K and Kinder kiddos.  
You can download these Transportation Tags for FREE in my TpT store.  
If you want something even easier, just buy some Avery labels and print name tags for your students.  You can add car rider, walker, bus #s, etc. to their name tags and change them throughout the week as needed.  This would take less than 5 minutes to do, and you would probably use them throughout the year for subs, field trips, etc.
Hope these tips make dismissal on the 1st day of school go very smoothly!  :)  

Classroom Organization- Managing the PAPERS!!!

Today I'm going to share with you a tried and true system for classroom organization.  This easy and CHEAP system can work for any teacher.  No matter what grade level you teach, the one thing we have in common as teachers is PAPER!  We are blessed with technology in our schools, but the paper hasn't gone away (and it NEVER will).  Mounds of paperwork on your desk will drive you crazy, so I'm here to give you a quick hack for organizing all of those papers!
Say goodbye to a messy desk and say hello to this beauty!
Classroom Organization- Managing the PAPERS!!!  Say goodbye to a messy desk, and hello to an organized classroom and a happy teacher!
I found this in the Back to School section at Target for $2.99.
Here is what I do, after I prepare my lesson plans and make my copies, I slide all of the worksheets, homework, spelling lists, activities, read-aloud books, and anything special I will need into the file folder for each day of the week.
Classroom Organization- Managing the PAPERS!!!  Say goodbye to a messy desk, and hello to an organized classroom and a happy teacher!
Instead of having papers on my desk, papers on my guided reading table, papers by my computer, etc., I know that all the paperwork I will need for each day is in the folder for that day.  If we don't get to an activity, I take it and shift it to the next day, or save it for the following week.  This system is also amazing because if you unexpectedly need a sub, everything they need will be right in the file folder!  
This is a great idea for classroom organization and organizing all of the PAPERS you have in your classroom.  Put your lesson plans and student work in each of the daily file folders.  This will keep the mess off of your desk, and it will be easily accessible.   (Great for an emergency sub too!)
On Monday, I will need spelling lists, math worksheet for centers, adjective activity, and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom for read-aloud.  I slide all of this into Monday's folder.  It's so simple, but it is an amazing system.  Over the years, I've tried so many ways to organize classroom papers-- mailboxes, trays, file folders on my desk, filing cabinet, file box-- and this is the best system by far!  
This is a great idea for classroom organization and organizing all of the PAPERS you have in your classroom.  Put your lesson plans and student work in each of the daily file folders.  This will keep the mess off of your desk, and it will be easily accessible.   (Great for an emergency sub too!)
You can display it on a bulletin board, or just hang it on the wall behind your desk like I did.  It's cute and colorful, and the best part is that it keeps the mess off your desk!  
This awesome Art Skills organizer came with labels, but I printed some out on Avery address labels instead of hand writing them.  
Managing all of the papers in your classroom can be overwhelming!
E-mail me at if you want me to send them to you so you don't have to make your own.  You could also just use a Sharpie and WRITE them. Haha.  :)  
There are tons of hanging organizers out there, but you can't beat this cheap one at $2.99!
Happy Organizing!

Journal Writing {A Shared Classroom Journal}

I've always loved having a shared journal in my classroom.  What's a shared journal?  It's a journal that is kept in the writing station that all students are welcome to write in.  Students can read their classmates responses, and respond to one another.  
You can keep blank journals for students to write in, or you can print writing prompts on Avery labels.  Students choose a topic they find interesting, stick the label in the journal, and write their response in the shared journal.  It's great to also keep post-it notes, stickers, and pens in the writing station so students can respond to one another.  {Set your expectations before you let the kids loose!}  I found these emoji sticky flags in the Dollar Spot at Target!  160 emoji flags for $1.  Eek!
These emoji sticky flags would be a fun way for the teacher to respond to students' journaling as well.  I like to take a couple journals home with me every weekend.  I'll scan through the writing and leave notes.  Students FREAK OUT when they see that I've read their journal and written a personal note to them.  These emoji flags are perfect for that, but if you can't find them at Target, a post-it note or sticker would work just fine.
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