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Planning for the First Weeks of School

This is a very long post, but make sure you stick it out the whole way through because you're going to find a freebie along the way!

No matter what grade you teach, knowing your expectations is key.  There are so many things to think about!  From the way you organize the desks, to how you gain student attention... it all matters.

Here's just a few classroom procedures I teach in the first week of school:

Above all else, no matter what your expectations are, it's so important to keep them consistent.


So, whatever you choose, stick with it!

Over the years, I've developed a learning sequence that I use to build my classroom community and create my class agreement.  I've also created a sequence for teaching about the brain and a growth mindset.  To me, these things needs to happen first.  I can't teach the academics until I've got a solid community in my classroom.

Click here for a previous post on how I build my classroom community in more detail.

To sort everything out and keep myself on track, I've developed a plan for my first 5 weeks of school.  It's more in depth than my year long previews, but less so than my day to day plans.  It just gives me an idea of where I'm going in that first month when things are so hectic.

Here's a shot of what that's looking like for the 2015/16 school year:


You can see it's just snippets of lessons, titles really.  But I can tell at a glance what each of these items represents in my room.

(If you have any questions, I'd be more than happy to answer!  Just let me know in the comments.)

Are you thinking, wow! I need this?  Well, you're in luck then!  I've created a fully editable version of this for you

Click here to get your own free copy! 

One of the items I'd like to draw your attention to is under the classroom management section: Voice Levels.

I place all posters from 0-4 on my whiteboard in order from lowest to highest ahead of time.  I've also got a summary piece with all the levels on one page.  This is the page that remains up all year for reference.

I go over each card one by one.   The first card is the easiest for kids to understand, 0 - silent.  No sound.

Things get a little bit louder from there: whisper, partners, groups.

When you get to 4, it's a bit trickier.  One voice is nice and loud (the loudest in fact) but all the rest are silent and listening.

Once I've talked about each, we practice.  I start at 0, everyone is quiet.  Then I move to 1, and the room is filled with whispers.  We work our way up and then back down to 0.  I like to them randomize the numbers.

The kids find it fun and it shows me they really understand each level.
Even as soon as the very next day, I was able to say "I would like a volume level 1 for this activity" and my class was able to get off to work with a whisper voice!
If you're wanting to grab this item, it comes a few different versions:



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  1. Thanks for the tips! They really helped me start thinking about the producers I need to put in place the first week of school.

  2. I've never heard the phrase "hallway manners". Cute.


  3. I completely agree!! Consistency make a huge difference, especially at the beginning of the year!

    The Craft of Teaching

  4. I love your voice level posters! I haven't used anything like that before, but I can see how they would help the noise level in my room. Thanks for the great advice!
    Literacy Loves Company

  5. What a great list! I just LOVE seeing first week plans. Thank you for making such an inclusive post - I've bookmarked it for when I start piecing together my first week plans this week.

  6. Great back to school tips! I love the voice level posters!