Tips For Start Of The School Year For Teachers 11 to 15

Start of School Guide

Teaching Idea

"Notebook Requirement"
Professor Jim Nichols, Chair El Ed: Nyack College, NY


All students must maintain a three-ring loose-leaf binder, which will be brought to class daily, unless the teacher specifies otherwise.

This notebook may be used for all classes. However, the notebook must have a separate section for social studies or language arts materials. The social studies/language arts sections must be subdivided in a logical fashion, i.e., thematic or historical units (Grammar or Civil War) in order to make it easy to locate information.

Each notebook must contain an organizational system such as a table of contents or content journal as determined by the teacher. Pages need to be numbered and dated in sequence. Dates, topics, and page numbers must be included in your organizational system.

The notebook will be checked on a monthly basis. Students will be given a notebook grade at least once per marking period. The notebook grade will be the equivalent to one test grade. This grade will assess organizational skills, neatness, completeness, and appropriate implementation of notetaking/notemaking skills, i.e., the process of learning.

Students will be administered at least one open notebook test per marking period. This test is to impress upon students the importance of up to date, well written, properly organized notes as a critical element of success as a student. This grade will measure content understanding, i.e. the product of the learning process.

This requirement has dramatically improved student study skills and grades in the 20+ years it has been used.

Teaching Idea

Beginning of the Year Paperwork
Karen Lawrence, Middle School Math Teacher

"When you receive all the paperwork back from your parents at the beginning of the year, make a file folder with a copy of the form stapled to the front and a copy of the class roster stapled just inside the front cover. When that form comes back, you can file it in the correct folder or (for the older more responsible students) have a student responsible for collecting the paper for that particular folder. All you have to do then is check off each individual's name. It's easy to tell who hasn't turned in what and to keep up with it all."

Teaching Idea

"Opening Day"
Jason Beggs, High School English Teacher

"The first thing I do with my English classes (that is on the first day of school) is a cooperative learning activity. First, ask students to individually write out a brief definition of the word "expectation". After 30 seconds they must share this with a partner and come to some agreement. Then I call on them at random to share the definition. We then check this with a dictionary. Afterwards, I line them up across the front of the room by either birthday, or height, or by how far away they live from the school (this also works as a good ice breaker for the students) I then count off groups of four and have them sit together. Each is assigned a role to play (a recorder, a materials manager, a referee, and a presenter). I then ask them to make a list of their expectations of "ME" as their English teacher and what things the expect me to do with and for them this year. Students must keep the list on chart paper. This takes time...You may get a bit of "no homework!" but kids usually get down to business and you get to know who the possibly challenging students are right away. After 5-10 minutes stop the activity and share each list aloud with the teacher keeping a "master" list on the board. This gives you an opportunity to get their voices heard, and anticipate any problems which may occur, and possibly avert them. Discuss this with your my experience it can easily eat up a full class period. Let it...because tomorrow's lesson is all yours...when the teacher lists their expectations of the students. 9 times out of 10 if you respect their expectations of you and allow them some input, you will have less problems throughout the year when you review your expectations of them."

Teaching Idea

"Start Your Day With Joy !"
Nell Clark, Computer Teacher

"Start your classroom rules with:1. With Enter the room with a smile.

Discuss how important it is to spread joy and it starts with them.Take pictures of your students smiling.Select different students weekly that are smiling and display them in an area of the hall.Donot tell them who will be selected as "Students of Joy!" for the week. Include classroom behavior for the month and smile before displaying their picture.You may also have other students take pictures if you have a digital camera."

Teaching Idea

First Day Bingo
Heidi Riche: Grade 6 Teacher

"I always start of the beginning of the year with first day bingo. I create general knowledge cards for my grade level. I also include a lot of current events from the summer. Another fun bingo idea is to give students a blank bingo card and have them travel the room to get the signature of every student in the class. The teacher then pulls the names of the students from the bingo hat. I usually use homework passes as prizes. Students really enjoy this activity."

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