Things to have set up before the students walk in on day 1

  1. Seating arrangement, copy of seating chart to be filled in

  2. Decide your grading plan

  3. Have introduction sheets written and printed

  4. Have letter home written and printed

  5. Lesson plans for at least the first day, if not the first week

  6. Lab equipment system
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  8. Make sure the room is clean. If maintenance has not cleaned it, then you clean it. Even if your maintenance staff does not care about the cleanliness of your room, you have to.
  9. Decide your classroom management plan. Have consequences ready for just about any misbehavior you can imagine:
    1. What you'll say when a student talks out of turn
    2. What you'll say/do when a student does not stop talking
    3. How will you stop a student from just walking out of the room
  10. Decide if you want to tolerate objects being thrown across the classroom. Have consequences for students you catch throwing objects. I'd have students pick up 5 objects off the floor and show them to me before throwing them away. Unfortunately I really sucked at catching them throwing things, but eventually as I gained a reputation, the objects stopped flying. Also, I would actually help pass the pencil across the gap so that it would not be thrown. You can help objects move if it means they won't be thrown.
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  12. Homework policy- what is it? Can items be turned in late? for full credit?
  13. What is your test make-up policy?
  14. Lab make up policy?
  15. Quiz make up policy?
  16. Will you be giving pop-quizes? (I was actually asked that on day 1; caught me off guard.)
  17. Decide how you'll train your students about how to behave according to your expectations
    1. When they can use the pencil sharpener/How to ask to use the pencil sharpener
    2. When they can use the stapler or any other object you have available to them
    3. What they can touch in the classroom and what they need to ask for permission to touch
    4. When they are allowed to leave the classroom on a hall pass
    5. How to acquire equipment for a lab
    6. How to clean up after the lab
    7. How to behave during the lab
    8. How to turn in papers
    9. How you'll return papers to them
    10. Where they need to be when you take attendance
    11. What you expect them to do in order to be dismissed- sitting in seats, chairs stacked on desk for last period, etc.
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  18. Decide if they are allowed to eat, drink, and/or chew gum during class.
  19. When will you be available for tutoring? at lunch? after school? by appointment only?
  20. When you write your classroom rules, be as positive as possible. My first rule was usually "Think before doing". It was much better than saying "Don't do anything stupid." I was once told to never use the words "don't", "no", "not", or any other negative word in rules. It is hard, but write rules in a positive, constructive sense. A list of what not to do does not really tell a student what is acceptable; just what is not acceptable. Common rules often include topics such as:
    1. respect
    2. being on time to class; attending every class
    3. taking responsibility for doing own work
    4. being responsible for equipment they'll use
    5. turning in work on time
    6. make friends with someone in class so you can call him/her when you are absent
  21. The fewer the number of rules, the better. Too many rules are too scattered.
  22. Create a webpage students and their parents can visit during the school year
  23. Decide which email address you'll give out. Decide if you want to give out your phone number or not. It is not unusual for teachers to give out their cell phone numbers.
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  25. Decide how much of your personal life you want to or should share with your students. If your kids are underage, be very careful with social media connections because you may be legally required to report them if they post something online and you read it. If they report child abuse and you are their "friend", you may be legally required to call the police and report it.
  26. Decide how the period will be structured. The more structure, the better. Students need structure to feel comfortable. Some elements of classroom structure you'll want to consider:
    1. Agenda- where will it be posted. Make sure it is available for students to read as they come in the room
    2. Warm-up question- how will you administer it? via the overhead, the tv, or an LCD projector? How will it be graded? Will it be discussed orally? Will students write answers? Will you grade it every day or after a week of warm-ups? Will they write the answers on a specific piece of paper or on random pieces of paper?
    3. How will you grade homework? How will homework be used- is it whatever they don't finish during classtime or is it additonal work?
    4. Informal/formative assessment. How will you casually determine what information got into your students' brains?
    5. Things that work well for informal assessment are:
      1. grading the warm-ups
      2. having exit questions/ exit quizzes daily that you grade daily
      3. walking around the room observing students working
      4. asking students questions while they are working
      5. asking students to hold up fingers to indicate their choice during a discussion where you give them a multiple choice question where they can choose the answer. For example, hold up a 1 if you agree with so and so, hold up a 2 if you disagree, hold up a 3 if you are undecided, hold up a 4 if you are totally clueless, hold up a 5 if you are too bored to answer
      6. asking students to volunteer putting answers on the overhead or front board
      7. using white boards (cut up shower board works well- can buy it at Home Depot) and group work where students hold up their answers
      8. doing Jeopardy games
      9. having exit passes- students write down a question or something they learned that day on a small piece of paper that they hand to you in order to be allowed to leave at the end of the period. If you live in the SF Bay area, if you go to RAFT, there is a good chance you can get a ton of small squares kids can write on. I got a bunch of wine bottle labels there which worked great for this purpose.
    6. Formal/summative assessment- how will you formally determine what the students know?
    7. Things that work well for formal/summative assessment:
      1. quizzes
      2. tests
      3. written papers if structured right- some written papers are merely reprints of webpages if not structured correctly
      4. analysis questions on labs
      5. lab practicals where students have to demonstrate competency
    8. How long do they have to wander around the classroom before class starts?
    9. Who dismisses them? You or the bell?
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  27. Extra office supplies
    1. Pencils. You can probably buy a dozen or two for a dollar at your local 5 and dime (Target, WalMart) or office supply warehouse (Office Depot or Office Max). As frustrating as it may be to have pencils disappear, it is even more frustrating to have to negotiate the consequences of not having a pencil to a student. It is just a pencil for heavens' sakes. If you want to swap a pencil for a student ID or shoe, that's cool. But don't not stock pencils because you think it is going to teach them a lesson. All it is going to teach the students is that you don't care if they are going to be able to take notes today or not.
    2. Calculators. If you are teaching chemistry, you may want to splurge and buy $5 - $8 scientific calculators that you can lend out to students. Mid to late August is the time to pay attention to sales at Office Depot and Office Max because you can actually buy scientific calculators for $5. While it is reasonable to expect all of your students to own their own calculator, if you teach in an area where students can not afford a scientific calculator or may lose objects easily, it is ok to provide them with the tool they need to do the work. Recently the Dollar Tree stores started carrying scientific calculators for $1 each. At that price you probably won't care if the batteries die in a couple months or if a calculator disapears. If you have an extra $40, just buy a class set and put them in a box in the classroom. Since I did do that, I want to warn you to check EVERY calculator before you buy it. Make sure it will put numbers in scientific notation and let you do math in scientific notation. You will also want to do an 8888 across the top to make sure all of the LCD crystals work.
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    4. Spiral notebooks. Spiral notebooks can often be purchased for $0.25 during back to school sales. If you plan to do lab notebooks with your students and you don't care what the notebook itself looks like, then spiral ones work great. Yes, they are NOT legal notebooks for science, but when you are teaching kids who get their main nutrition from the free school lunch program, you are not going to ask them to spend a $1.50 on a bound notebook, let alone $15 on a scientific one. Remember, it is what they put inside the notebook that counts, not how pretty it is.
    5. Pens. Same reason as pencils...see above.
    6. Notebook paper. If your school does not supply notebook paper, you may want to pick up a few packs. Again, keep an eye out for sales. One time I picked up like 8 packs of 100 count notebook paper for $0.25 per pack. Another time they were free because of other stuff I had bought. One year Staples sold college ruled packs of I think 200 sheets for $0.05 during the back to school season.
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    8. Folders. If you want to have your students keep portfolios or any kind of folder system in class, you may want to pick up the pocket folders w/ or w/o clips in the middle. It has been a while since I've bought them by the dozen, but around the back-to-school season time I think you can get them for $0.10 each. That's approximately $3.50 for a class-set. Ask yourself if you want to provide a folder for your students, even if it is a folder that stays in the classroom overnight, or do you want to allow papers to just jump alone into the abyss of a backpack.
    9. Do you automatically lose $ by buying office supplies for your classroom? Maybe not. I don't know the law when it comes to reselling office supplies to students. I did it, but never for profit. I would much rather haul in 40 spiral notebooks to sell for $0.25 each to my students than have to deal with them not having the notebook when I was ready for them to use it. It can be difficult for students to find a ride to the store and then remember to pick up a notebook, but many of them can remember to bring a quarter to school. I've seen teachers buy pencil vending machines and put one in their classroom. For $0.25 a student can buy a pencil through the machine. You may not even have to think about this stuff if your school has a school store or if it is already set up to handle office supply needs kids will have.
    10. Maybe not for your first year, but over time you may want to invest in a class set of colored pencils and magic markers if you expect student to make posters or color code periodic tables or other diagrams. Colored pencils and magic markers can cost a lot and buying them all at once can be really expensive. These are things you will want to keep an eye out for when they are on sale. If you do buy 8 sets (1 per lab group) make sure you number each set and treat them like you would any other piece of equipment. Check them to make sure all pens and pencils are returned. The 3 minutes it takes you to do the check will save you lots of time and money replacing the ones that went "poof."
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