The first week of school sets the tone for the entire year, and the more prepared you are, the better. You will not regret spending time during the summer to have all your ducks in a row.
One aspect of preparation involves handouts and other class documents. Here are five documents I use to help the year start smoothly. Feel free to use them or adapt them to fit your classroom.
1. Class Welcome Sheets. The foundation of the entire course, the class welcome sheet sets out expectations for the year. Topics can include what supplies are needed, homework procedures, tardy policies, and grading information. I always had my students and parents sign this form the first week of school. View a sample class welcome sheet. I also discuss this topic more in my e-book Create Your Dream Classroom.
2. Discipline Plan. Your discipline plan should explain your rules (don’t have more than five), penalties, and rewards. View a sample discipline plan modeled after an example found in The First Days of School by Harry and Rosemary Wong, p. 160.
3. Parent Letter. Write a letter to your parents that introduces yourself and the course. Tell them the things they need to do to help their child succeed in your class. You can send out a paper copy and also email them the letter. View a sample parent letter.
4. Entry Questionnaire: Start off class with a questionnaire to get the kids’ brains in gear. This will also give you an idea of your students’ previous experiences with your subject. View a sample entry questionnaire.
5. Sample Test/Quiz: Posting a sample test and quiz helps reduce students’ test anxiety by giving them an idea of what the first quiz and test will look like. Simply write sample questions in the format you plan to use for tests and quizzes and post this on the wall in your classroom. View a sample quiz.
These are just a few of the documents I use the first week of school. What document have you found to be most essential as you start school?