Congratulations! You did it! You landed your first teaching position for next school year and finally have your own classroom. You should be so excited because you are about to embark on a journey that will forever change your life. Now, you may not be able to get into your classroom right away, but there are still plenty of things that you can do to prepare for the new school year. Not only are we going to help you get prepared, but we’re also going to give you ideas that are affordable so be sure to keep your budget in mind. It can be so easy for EVERY teacher to get carried away spending, but this is especially true for new teachers. So let’s get that list started and help you figure out how to prepare for that classroom.
Every classroom in every school should have a classroom library. The problem is that not many teachers get a budget for creating that space. When you’re first starting out in teaching your brain often goes to buying books, but here’s a little #teacherhack: go to the library and checkout books.
Say what? You may or may not have been to a library for quite some time due to COVID and/or the fact that pretty much everything is digital. However, if you are on budget this truly is your BEST option because you can offer a wide variety of books and constantly switch them out for a new selection. So take a reading inventory of your students and share that with the librarian so he/she can help you choose the appropriate books.
If you are lucky enough to receive a stipend for your classroom, then by all means start purchasing books for your library. Goodwill and discount book stores are great places to start. The Facebook Marketplace is also another great resource with many teachers selling items for great discounts. Finally, check your local library to see when/if they hold a book sale. Some libraries will hold one in the fall and another in the spring. If you go on the last day, they usually offer a “Fill A Bag” deal where you can fill a bag of books for $5.00! Talk about value!
Next up is one of my favorite things to do as a teacher and that’s taking professional development classes. Now that so many amazing PDs have become virtual it is easier than ever before to take some of the most beneficial classes without even leaving your home. How awesome is that?
In regards to reading and ELA, anything Jen Jones offers will be of great value to you. At first the cost might scare you a bit, but when you attend her conferences you receive access to so many FREE resources that it feels like being at The Oprah Show. This summer, Jen is offering her first ever Writer’s Workshop Professional Development. I’m already signed up and literally can’t wait to attend! Reading and writing are two major subjects that we teach, so if you are hesitant or simply not sure what to teach or how to teach it then you definitely want to start here!
In fact, Jen Jones is so AWESOME that she even has a “How To Teach Guided Reading Lesson Series” setup for FREE in her Facebook group linked HERE. There are 22 videos that dive deep into the guided reading process. So if money is a hurdle, then definitely start binging on these and you’ll see for yourself why so many teachers love Jen Jones!
If you haven’t heard of the Teach Your Heart Conference yet, well you’ll probably want to store this in your memory bank. COVID caused this conference to be held virtually which allowed many teachers to attend who normally wouldn’t be able to attend. This conference truly has something for everyone from reading to math hacks to technology advice. Best of all, the virtual ticket price is so affordable that you’ll probably receive more than the cost with the FREE resources that are provided.
One last recommendation in regards to professional development would be to check what courses are available at your local colleges. There can be some fantastic offerings available to you that you won’t find online. These classes are often in person with limited seating so if you haven’t taken a look to see what’s available then you probably want to get a move on.
Finally, be sure to ask your principal if there are professional development funds available. Oftentimes, you’ll have to pay upfront, attend the class, provide a certificate of participation and proof of payment in order to get reimbursed. It sounds like a hassle, but it’s really not so bad.
Okay so this is totally the fun part of preparing for a new classroom, but we need to be mindful of the budget. Teacher stores might seem like a logical place to start when you’re heading out shopping, however, in reality their prices can be pretty costly. Try some of these ideas instead.
Dollar Tree and the Target Dollar Spot often have a goldmine of resources for teachers. Be careful though not to go too crazy (which can happen quite easily) and focus on things you need while avoiding the thought of, “Oooooooo this is such a good deal” on something you’ll never use. In fact, you might want to create a list so you have a vision in place.
Local craft stores, Michael’s and Hobby Lobby are also great places to purchase teaching resources. They often run sales in July and August which is when you’ll want to stock up on stamps, glue, and all the things for crafting. Again, be sure to be mindful of your budget when making your purchases.
Finally, if you know a teacher that retired this year, then try sending an email letting him/her know you’ll be starting your first year of teaching. Ask if they have suggestions as to what type of supplies you’ll need. Many times retired teachers are so happy to pass their treasures onto other teachers. This can save you plenty of money, especially your first year. If you are lucky enough to find a retired teacher, don't feel like you have to take everything. That’s how a classroom quickly becomes cluttered.
Definitely keep an eye out for those fabulous sales that will be rolling in during July and August. Things like crayons, markers and dry erase markers all make great gifts during the holidays so you might want to stock up.
Hopefully once you found out that you landed your first classroom, your principal showed you the space. Start thinking about different ways to arrange desks, tables, and technology so your classroom will flow smoothly. Arranging desks in “U” shape is always nice at the beginning of the year because it helps students to see others during class discussions. Small groups are also nice because they allow for collaboration. Focus on the flow and movement to determine what will work best. You can always adjust along the way.
As teachers we are called to constantly grow and refine our craft. Professional books are a great way to do just that. Three books you want to put at the top of your reading list are: The Power of Our Words by Paula Delton, Shake Up Learning by Kasey Bell and The Daily Five by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser.
The Power of Our Words - Shares ideas and meanings behind not only what we say, but how we say it. The book includes so many great charts and graphs to help improve our language as teachers at any grade level.
Shake Up Learning - The ideas brought forth in this book are exactly where education should be heading in the next few years. Kasey Bell does an awesome job of taking the fear out of 21st century teaching. This is a M-U-S-T read!
The Daily 5 - If you are new to teaching reading, then this is a great way to get your feet wet. The Sisters are incredible at guiding you through a literacy process that will have you meeting the needs of all of your readers.
Okay…ready, set, go! Head out there and start building the classroom of your dreams. Hopefully these 5 tips for preparing your first classroom will be a guide to help get you started: 1) Classroom Library 2) Professional Development 3) Classroom Supplies 4) Classroom Setup 5) Professional Reading
Congratulations again! This is an exciting time for you and we’re happy to help you on your journey. Feel free to reach out to us on Instagram (@lessonplantoolbox) or email ([email protected]) if there’s anything else you need. Our mission is to make the lives of primary teachers as easy as possible by saving them time and energy to avoid burnout.
Bonus Helpful Hints:
You are probably going to have so many questions moving forward, so be sure to check out Hillary Midgley’s posts: 16 Things To Ask At A New School, What You Need To Buy For Your Classroom, and 5 Tips For Creating An Effective Classroom Management Plan.
If you enjoyed this post you might also want to check out 4 Easy Steps To Parent Communication For Primary Teachers
Don’t forget to grab the 7 Habits To Avoid Teacher Burnout which will be so helpful as you begin to think about the next school year.
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