There’s nothing like that excited feeling you get when you walk into your new classroom for the first time. Your mind is racing with so many possibilities with displays, organization, and materials, and sometimes it’s hard to know where to start!
For the first time this school year, I will be teaching at just one school. Previously, I traveled to three schools, some years pushing a cart, or teaching out of a cafeteria, or even sharing a classroom. I will now be entering my new room with a clean slate. Many of you may be entering into new situations (such as having a classroom, cart, or temporary space) but all of you will be starting fresh for the school year.
I’ve gathered some tips to help you organize your mind while entering into your new spaces. With so much to do in so little time, it’s best to be as prepared as you can before meeting the students!
Take an inventory of your space. If you have a classroom, explore your cabinets, shelves, and display spaces so you know what you have. If you’re on a cart or in a temporary space, search through your storage, your carts, and any spaces allotted to you. Knowing what you have will help you to better plan your curriculum for the year (plus any supplies you may need to order).
Gather a list of questions you may have. When new to a school, you may not know where the mailboxes, copy machine, or teacher resource room are located. When setting up for the school year, you will find that you need guidance in locating the things you need while setting up your spaces.
Find a mentor. If you’ve been teaching for one year or twelve, anyone in a new building will need a little guidance to get started. Some districts will have a mentorship program in place for you, but if you don’t have a mentor, ask your principal for suggestions in your school.
Begin organizing your classroom (or carts). Now that you know what you have, arrange your space to suit yours and your students’ needs. Keep safety in mind for your space, such as drying rack locations or sink usage. If you’re on a cart, I found it useful to prepare bins for materials that I can change out throughout the year.
Design your rules and procedures. From the first day the students walk into your space (or you enter theirs), students should understand the rules you set in place for your art class. Having your procedures set from day one shows the students that you have expectations for them to follow and that you will be consistent with them.
Start planning your curriculum. Some districts may have a pacing guide already in place for you to follow, but many times you may need to plan your own with only the standards as your guide. Start by making a list of what goals you want students to achieve at each grade level.
Create examples of all your projects. By creating a finished example, students can see what your expectations are and in the process, you will learn the steps to show in creating the projects. If you are in your first year, you will be creating examples as the weeks fly by, but as the years progress, you will be making fewer examples since the previous ones are saved.
The beginning of the year can be incredibly overwhelming, but with organization, motivation, and time management, you will have an amazing space to deliver your instruction! Good luck with the beginning of the school year!