Sunday, August 9, 2015

BTS Blog Hop

Did you know that there is a pretty cool link up happening right now? It's all about teachers sharing their favorite back to school tips and tricks! This link up is hosted by Tammy from The Owl Teacher!

Teaching kindergarten, the first few weeks seem to fly by in such a blur. Those first five or six weeks are so hectic and crazy-busy, trying to get a room full of five-year-olds to acclimate to school and classroom life.
I have a few things I do each year to make those first few weeks go by a little smoother. One of the most important things I do is to get as organized as I possibly can!
Before the year officially begins, I set up my student data folders. I keep data folders for each of my kiddos. Each Dragon gets their own hanging file folder, and inside that folder are several color-coded file folders.
Each of the folders contains information on students that I might need to contact a guardian or to bring to a parent/teacher conference or 504/IEP meeting. 
I type up the labels for each file-folder on sticky labels. The only part of the file that gets a student name is the stick-up tab on the hanging file folder. Since I'm not putting student names on the folders I use, I can use them year after year after year!
My folders are labeled Student Info., Assessments, Behavior, Parent contact, and Work Samples. I do not collect every single piece of paper, but I do keep pieces that show student ability throughout the year. Students who I feel may need RTI or other intervention services, I keep more work sample papers for them.

At our school, grades 1-12 start three days before preschool, pre-k, and kindergarten. This is so we can use this time to have parent/teacher meetings as well as getting to meet the students who will be in our class.
Since there is always so many forms and information that need to be given during those beginning of the year entry conferences, I have found that color-coding your papers is a huge help!
I try to make as many different colored copies as I can. This way I can check at a glance to see if the family has all of the forms they need, as well as making it easier for families to differentiate between all that paper work. I also make sure to have a journal or notebook with me so I can jot down anything the parents tell me about their child. I make sure to have a schedule of meetings right on the table, both so I can keep myself on track as well as to remind me which Dragon I'm about to meet!

Finally, once school starts, I like to get started with our guided group work as soon as possible. We have guided reading as well as guided math, and during the beginning of the year these are great times to do informal or formal assessments of your students' abilities. This is also a great time to introduce to them different activities they will get to use during different center times. I enjoy getting to introduce center activities as a small group as opposed to the whole class. This way I can assist with any issues that crop up and students will have prior exposure to the center activity rules and procedures, which will allow them to better handle working in centers independently.
This is a freebie I made that I love using during those beginning of the year guided math groups. Students roll a shape cube, find it on their recording sheet, and trace it.
Both the cube and the recording sheet are included in the freebie, which you can find here!

I hope that I have given you a tip or two to help you with the craziness of Back to School! I hope that you have a wonderful start to the new school year!
Don't forget to continue this awesome Back to School Blog Hop!

It's not too late for you to link up for Spotlight Saturday! This is a Teacher's Show and Tell link up where you can share all about your favorite products, activities, ideas, resources, lessons, tips, tricks, ideas, and anything else that makes classroom life easier or more awesome!


  1. Thanks for sharing an insight into your back to school plans! I love that you get to have extra time to meet with parents/families before the children start!

    Teaching Autism

    1. Those extra days are so important to put a name with a face and to gain an understanding of their basic abilities!
      Thanks so much for reading my tips and leaving such sweet feedback, I really appreciate it!!

  2. Erin, I'm so glad that I found your blog today! I'm a Maryland kindergarten teacher too, and I think the shape die idea with the recording sheet is lovely. Your hanging file notion is one that I've never done. I'm going to try it for this year right after reading this blog post. Have you ever seen the Clarence and Lily books on Pioneer Valley? They're about a dragon and a fairy, so I bet your Dragons would love them!

    Have a wonderful opening of school!

    Sharon Dudley, NBCT
    Teaching with Sight

    1. Oh my gosh, I'm so excited to find another Maryland teacher, especially a kindergarten teacher!! I really haven't found all that many Maryland teachers, and it makes me sad 'cause I want to do one of those blogger meet-ups I keep reading about!! Thank you so much for telling me about the Clarence and Lily books, I am definitely going to be checking those out!!! I'm excited to hear you're going to try the hanging file system, I'd love to hear if it works out for you and if you put any tweaks on it!! :-)
      Thank you so very much for reading my tips and leaving such amazing feedback, I'm so excited to find another Maryland kindergarten teacher!!

  3. Replies
    1. You're so welcome, I hope you find it useful this year!
      Thanks for reading my post and leaving feedback!!

  4. I am going to try the color coding this year! What a great tip! Thank you!!
    Melissa from Mrs. Dailey's Classroom

    1. You're so very welcome, I hope it comes in handy for you this year!!
      Thanks so much for reading my tips and for leaving feedback, I really appreciate it!!

  5. You have some great ideas! Thanks for sharing.
    Sandra's Savvy Teaching Tips

    1. Thank you so much, I'm so glad I could help!
      Thank you for reading my post and leaving feedback, it means a lot!!

  6. Love your post! And, can I just say, your blog design is SOOOO cute! Love your watermark and how you cover up your students' faces! Thank you for sharing your ideas!

    Tales from a Very Busy Teacher

  7. Love your post! And, can I just say, your blog design is SOOOO cute! Love your watermark and how you cover up your students' faces! Thank you for sharing your ideas!

    Tales from a Very Busy Teacher

  8. I love how you use color coded files to organize your paperwork! Great idea!!

    A Tall Drink of Water