Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Start of the Year Nuts and Bolts: Checklist for the First Day

By on August 19, 2011

Introduction Handout with expectations and grading procedures. Check.

Publishing Release Form. Check.

PG-13 Video/Clip Release Form to cover me for the whole school year. Check.

Set up YouTube Channel even though I have no idea how to use it yet. Check.

Purchased a Blackboard Collaborate account for a 100-person room. Check.

Tried out said room and can’t seem to figure out how to load a darn PowerPoint, but figured out how to remove a student from the room if he or she chats inappropriately. Check.

Sent off Book Spines templates to get copied for kids to use to show how much they are reading. Check.

Set up Weebly website. Check.

Designed first three weeks of lessons for all three different classes. Check.

Began email discussion with ELA department about digital portfolios. Check.

Set up bulletin board for opening days’ activity of agreeing on a classroom constitution and norms for online and offline behavior. Check.

Purchased 150 feathers to make quills and ink to sign said classroom constitution. Check.

Dusted off classroom library and set up realia props to lure kids in. Check.

Shoved around desks and chairs into position. Check.

Labeled chair names at each table group: Skulduggery, Prince Hal, Katniss, Mr. Darcy. Check.

Labeled table groups by colleges and universities: Harvard, USC, UCLA, Yale, Stanford, Berkeley, Connecticut College (mine), Lewis & Clark, Vassar. (Note to self: Allow students to do research and choose their own group’s college name during persuasive writing in second quarter). Check.

Broke into file cabinet that somehow got locked over the summer. Check.

Rigged a bookshelf that collapsed while being moved for carpet cleaning last month. Check.

Found all wires to set up Internet, LCD, and laptop at the front of the room and began yearly search for the rubber strip that allows me to walk over said cordage without breaking my neck. Check.

Air-blasted all tech equipment and set up the three classroom computers (rescued from being eRecycled a few years back). Check.

Made a list of supplies I need to purchase from Office Max, Staples, Office Depot, or whomever has the best deal this weekend: pencils, pens, post-its, highlighters, etc… Check.

Cleaned out cubbies to receive textbooks when they get delivered from the library on the first day. Check.

Killed 3 black widows. Check.

Sprayed for ants. Check.

Put up posters. Check.

Decided I’d rather have the students design the room as we go so I took down posters. Check.

Washed down the tops of cabinets and shelves that hadn’t gotten cleaned this summer. Check.

Designed opening day PowerPoint of results from my 8th grade surveymonkey activity at the end of last year. Check.

Spoke to NASA and JPL representatives to solidify their involvement in the culminating activity of a project-based learning unit that begins the third day of school. Check.

Set up phone. Check.

Cleaned out fridge. Check.

Looked inside my own desk, saw it was still a disaster, decided to just keep the drawers closed for another full year. Check.

There’s a lot that happens at the beginning of a school year before school even begins. Things are constantly happening behind the scenes, off camera, and, incidentally, out of contract. But it’s all necessary to do the job and start the year off right.

We’ve got PD days and department meetings scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. During this time, we also meet our new principal for our first faculty meeting of the school year as well. We’ll get our final class assignments, schedule, and class lists to learn for sure what we’re teaching and to whom. Despite the official returns to work date, many of us have actually been working for a while, setting up our learning environment and setting up for the arrival of our clientele.

Good luck to everyone this year. May your own checklist help the start of the year begin smoothly, and may the rest of your year follow suit.

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