07 July 2014

Digging Into Next Year - Beginning of the Year

I officially go back to work 3 weeks from today?!? Where has the summer gone? Even more, I usually start going to work in my classroom before we are actually required to report. I'll let you do the math on that one.

Anyway, while I'm sad that summer is in the home stretch, I'm not going to lie...I LOVE the back-to-school season! I was recently in one of my favorite stores, and nearly everything in the grill, lawn, and patio areas was either already gone, or a clearance item, and I know that means the school supplies are coming!!!
With back-to-school comes a list about 20 miles long...things to arrange, buy, print, copy, laminate, and so on. There is no one easy way to get it all done, but I'm hoping this post will help a little. I'm focusing my post about how to actually get ready for your kiddos. 
I always start by making a list...granted I have about 6 going at one time, but make a list none the less. I add to it as I think of new things, and cross stuff off once I've completed it (duh, right?). If I'm not near my list, I make a note in my phone so I don't forget, and then add it the THE list. Need a list? You can grab mine below.
Once I see everything in one spot, I'm usually able to start prioritizing. You know, which things are the MUST-dos, and which things are the would-be-nice-if-I-can-find-the-time-dos. From there I get to work. This is the first year I'm not setting up a classroom from scratch (PTL!), so I'm pretty good at having to prioritize, because when you're walking in to a blank slate, it's just not all going to get done.  And sometimes, you have to recognize that early on, and come to grips.
So you have your list, you're prioritized, what's next? Well, this depends on your to-do list, really. I generally have one rule of thumb once I'm able to get back into my classroom: don't waste time doing something in your classroom, that you could do at home. For example, if I need to make a sign-in sheet for Sneak-a-Peek, I'm going to do it at home. Why? Because the time I have in my classroom is limited. Things like, making copies, laminating, arranging furniture are things I can only do at school. I bring the laminating home, to cut. What I can do at home, I do at home.
I don't know about you, but I love me some Pinterest! What did we do before Pinterest? I have a Pinterest board dedicated to ideas for the first days of school, as well as a board for the current school year. Each summer, I change the the title of the board to reflect the upcoming school year, and then pin ideas I want to be sure I incorporate. I also pin the links to things I want to purchase (especially, if I'll be buying them online). 
Follow Theresa's board 2014-2015 on Pinterest.

Follow Theresa's board Open House/Back to School Night/Conferences on Pinterest.

Follow Theresa's board First Days of School on Pinterest.

A huge part of going back to school/work is buying stuff. It's a fact of life, and after five years, the Mr. is still shocked each summer when I declare I need a "back-to-school allowance." Let's face it, if I didn't have a budget, I'd spend every dime we had because it's so easy to get carried away. 

Let's say you want new book baskets in your classroom library (something I indeed bought just a couple of days ago). There are lots of different options, at many different price points, and levels of quality. I really, really, really want to splurge on book baskets from ReallyGoodStuff, but I would have been paying nearly $100 and the result? Only 24 baskets (the ones I wanted come in sets of 12, and the price per each basket comes out to about $3.35 or so). I decided I was going to look around at a few different stores. I ended up finding basket for $1.30 a piece at Big Lots, and was able to get 40 of them for just over $55! Essentially, I double what I got, and cut the price in half.

Look at the adds in the paper. Often stores have select items at amazingly low prices (some even just a PENNY) - however, check the fine print. There's usually a minimum purchase required, and a maximum quantity of each item. Once upon a time, if you showed your teacher ID, you could up the quantity, but the rules have change A LOT in the past few years, so do your homework.

Also, find out if your school has an allotment you're allowed to spend on supplies for your classroom. I'm able to buy chart paper and construction paper for the year with the funds my school provides. The answer may very well be a no, however, it's totally worth asking about. Become friends with your bookkeeper :)

It's also really easy to choose a theme a go absolutely nuts with decor items. Buying the packaged sets from school specialty stores/companies are adorable, and the quality if superb, but they're expensive! Plus, if you get tired of something, and want switch it up the following year, you're spending tons and tons of money.

I recommend choosing colors you like, and then adding accent pieces that are inexpensive, and can be easily switched. My classroom has had a teal/aqua/turquoise (umm, could someone please tell me the difference please?), for the last 4 years, and I love it! It's one of my favorite colors. My boarders are black with white polka dots, and teal and white chevron. There are splashes of hot pink, lime green, yellow, purple, and orange. 

This year, I decided to make my own decor items, which you can find in TpT store. I wanted something that went along with the colors I love - it's a collection of various "Chevron Brights" (teal, hot pink, lime green, yellow, purple, and orange) items like supply labels, classroom library labels, alphabets, team signs, calendar cards, shapes, word wall cards, numbers, hall passes, etc...

As teachers start coming back to work in their classrooms, there inevitably are shelves, tables, chairs, desks, supplies, and so on that teachers don't want anymore. Usually, teachers put this stuff in the hallways with signs on them indicating they don't want them anymore. See something you like or need? ASK that it is in fact up for grabs, and then get it to your classroom. Also, my school places supplies that are up for grabs in the teacher work room. If you don't have one at your school, start one! You'd be surprised what will wind up on that table!

I'll be posting ideas for activities with students soon in a separate post! If you're wanting a sneak peek, take a look below!

Don't forget to check out the great ideas and tips these other bloggers have!

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