I get many requests from teachers asking me what they should do that first "stressful" week of the school year.

The first week of school is so important, it can set the tone for the beginning of the school year and quite possibly the whole year.

As the summer started to come to a close, I always had mixed feelings about the start of the next school year. anxious to get back to a profession that I loved but nervous just as a performer before he/she performs on stage.

Towards the latter part of August, I always went to my school for several days to organize my classroom for the new year.

Knowing that my new students would be sizing me up as I was starting to learn about them, made me want to be fully prepared for that first week of school.

So now please read about some my ideas below, I'm sure they will be very useful to you.

1. Classroom Layout

The design and layout of your classroom is an important first step in establishing a stimulating, motivating and positive learning environment for your students. Your classroom should be a warm and cheerful place where your students want to be.

One of your main considerations when designing the layout of your classroom is the classroom seating arrangement. I always organized the students' desks in groups of 4 to 6. I found that this promoted a healthy interaction between students for doing group work. In life, one must learn to communicate and work together with others. When I wanted to give my students more focused attention, it was easy for me to work with them using this grouping arrangement.

When considering your classroom decorations and classroom bulletin boards you'll find that your students will want to participate to make their classroom one that everyone will want to visit. Displaying their work for others to see, builds their self esteem and motivates them to learn, work and produce good quality results.

2. Classroom Supplies

Each teacher's back to school supply list for their classroom supplies will vary depending upon the grade they teach. Discount school supplies are always nice to find.

Here's a basic list of must haves for all elementary school teachers.

* Lots of blue pens
* Markers
* Large Scissors
* Staplers (3-4)
* One/Three Hole Punch
* A Timer
* Different Sized Lined Padded Paper
* Recipe Cards (5"x8" or 3"x5")
* Scotch and Masking Tape Dispensers
* Stickers with different themes.

Remember, everyone is different. What's important to one teacher may not be for another.

The first day of school, certain back to school supplies are given out to each student to keep in their desks, to be used throughout the school year.

* Pencils and Pens (for the older grades)
* Eraser
* Ruler
* Notebooks
* Small Glue Stick
* student size scissors
* Box of 8 crayons
* One Highlighter

To me, these are necessary supplies that all students will use on a daily basis and should be on their student school supply list.

3. Classroom Activities

During the first week of school, I have three goals.

1. My most important goal is to get to know my students(a little bit about their personality)and for them to get to know me. I do this through various classroom games and activities.

Here's one example.

One really fun activity I do, I call "Have You Ever". Each student has a sheet of 30 statements. For example:

* Flown in an airplane

* Been on a championship team

* Had an operation

* Ridden a horse

* Been really proud of yourself

* Been to the CN Tower (a Toronto landmark)

Students walk around the class looking for 3 other students (include yourself as well) who have done the activity. When they find one they print thye student's name beside the statement. This activity can take 20 - 30 minutes and then we have a class discussion about things such as, which statement was hard/easy to fill in, whose names are printed most often, etc.

"Have You Ever" is an absolutely wonderful activity and what a great way for every one to get to know each other, including you.

2. My second goal is to ease students back into the swing of things - which means a lot of review from the year before. I give my students a spelling test of 20 -25 words of the previous grade. I also give them 15 add, subtract, multiply, divide questions from the year before - one operation per day.

3. My third goal is to set the foundations of the classroom - e.g. the rules, routines, timetables and what's expected for the year.

Sooo, that's about it - How to prepare yourself - be organized for the first week or at least the first few days. Be thankful and grateful that you have a job you love or really like. Be YOURSELF and ENJOY!!!

Author's Bio: 

Honey Krumholz has taught elementary school for 33 years. She is currently a college supervisor and mentor to student teachers. She presents seminars on teaching strategies at York University in Toronto. Visit her website and get her effective teaching strategies on a wide variety of topics, for example, her teaching strategies on classroom display ideas