Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Starting Off the School Year on the Right Foot

It's July, and the last thing many of us want to think about is going back to school.  But, summer is for planning out our next year ahead of time, and even I've been chilling on the couch gathering my plans for the first week of August.

For this month's Art Ed Blogger's Network theme, we're all discussing how to plan the first week of school.  For September's Arts & Activities Stepping Stones column, I will also be sharing a few more tidbits of advice for starting fresh.

So let's say your first day back at work is mid-August.  When is a good time to start setting up?

I personally like to give myself the entire week before.  After 12 years of teaching, I learned that giving myself more time to plan works better in my favor, especially with having young kids at home.

See the above photo?  That was a nightmare.  Always be prepared in case your space looks like this!

I spend the first two days taking down the board coverings, unpacking the supply boxes, rearranging furniture, and setting up my floor plan.

The next set of days is for designing bulletin boards and displays, setting up the centers and supply bins, and organizing resources.  Decorating can take up quite a bit of time, especially when you walk in without a game plan.

The last set of days are set up for paperwork, seating charts, and first few weeks of lessons...and every year, there is something I still need to copy right before the students come in.

For the first week of school, I meet my classes for the first time.  I start off with giving each child an assigned seat.  Not everyone does this right away (which is okay), but in my case, I find it demonstrates to my students that I start off orderly and planned, and in return, my students are more receptive to learning.


Students are also introduced to our class "Art Jobs" board, which changes each week.  Each table is given a specific job to accomplish for that day.

I also spend some time discussing expectations with the students.  One of the examples I go over is the "No-No" and Yes-Yes" board.  It makes the students laugh every year when I talk about the floating houses and blue sky lines.

After each class discussion, I give each student a blank paper and give them time to work on their first drawing, which is a self portrait.  It's my beginning "pre-test" for my SLOs, which demonstrates growth over time.  For each grade level throughout the year, I design a "post-test" portrait drawing to measure growth over a few months.  All portrait drawings are saved each year until the end of the students' 6th grade year.  As a farewell gift, I hand back their portrait drawings collected since kindergarten, and they giggle and cry over their artworks created since first attending the school!

After completing all the beginning portrait drawings, we spend the next week of classes working on our International Dot Day projects!

When I was on a cart, I needed to plan my classes in many other ways.  In the past, Ive written about how to set-up when you're expected to teach from room to room.  Here are a few articles I'd like to share for my cart peeps:

The Pros and Cons of Teaching from a Cart

Choosing Your Cart and Finding Space

 This post is a part of The Art Ed Blogger's Network: Monthly Tips and Inspiration from Art Teacher Blogs. On the second Tuesday each month, each of these art teacher blogs will post their best ideas on the same topic.

Participating Art Teacher Blogs: