Working Away at My Back To School "To-Do" List

My Back to School "To-Do" list is slowly but surely getting addressed:

1) Make classroom prettier - you know, like you see on Pinterest
2) Organize "first day" activities
3) Figure out how to connect with parents more effectively this year

I've been doing some work on the aesthetics of my classroom this year. Honestly, this is a first for me! I'm not crafty and I generally put ALL of my time into class/curriculum prep. However, I have found some time this summer to do a few things in my room to add a little personality. I've painted a couple of my old wooden shelves a bright aqua color and another shelf a pretty purple. I've made some colorful new labels to create a calendar on the chalkboard that I rarely use. I also made some fantastic new subject labels for my homework board.  I'm still playing around with my furniture configuration - I don't have it quite right, yet. It's all beginning to come together, even though there's still so much left to do!

 Amazing how a coat of paint can liven things up! 

These labels are really going to add some color to my "blah" chalkboard (all freebies from TPT sellers).

With my room set-up underway, I've been able organize my first 2 days of school.

 I always do what I call "PD" with my students which helps me to get to know them, set expectations, get organized and do some fun activities. I'd like to share my favorite activity: "Building a Straw Structure". (I found this idea somewhere years ago, so thank you to the teacher who came up with it first - whoever you are.)

I break the class into groups of four. Each group receives 40 drinking straws and 1 metre of masking tape. Their task is to make the tallest free standing straw structure possible...without saying a word. Chatty groups lose straws for talking. It's always interesting to see who takes the lead and who sits back, who gets easily frustrated and who just can't be quiet. I usually throw in a few 30 second periods where I do allow them to speak - just to keep things interesting. The group with the tallest structure at the end of the given time period wins a little prize. I've done this with grades 6-8 and it's always a hit!  

So, with classroom plans coming together, I turn my sights to the next item of concern on my list: How will I make a tight bond between home and school this year?

We can do our jobs without parents on our side - it can be done. It does not create the most enjoyable of circumstances, but it can be done. It's so much easier if parents are on our side. It's even better if parents realize that we're actually on the same side and communication is completely open in both directions.

I've been working on a series of posts on Lessons From The Middle, that discuss building communication between home and school. Please come and join the discussion by adding your best tips for parent communication, to the mix!


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