Getting Ahead of the Game, Week #3

Can you believe it is already Week #3 of this Tuesday summer blog series called, "Getting Ahead of the Game?" Each week I will give you a little project to help you be ready for August. If you are just joining us, links to the previous weekly challenges can be found at the end of this post.  This week's challenge is...

Each Monday I email out a weekly newsletter to let me parents know what is going on that week. I use the same template each week and just update the information. I try to keep it simple. I use Powerpoint to create my newsletter and just add shapes, text boxes and clip art. 

Helpful Hint: Save a copy of your weekly email as a PDF file to email out to your parents!.This way it won't turn wonky if you use cute fonts and clip art. Plus parents will be able to read it on their smart phones. 

Just joining us? Catch up below:


Getting Ahead of the Game, Week # 2

I am back today for Week #2 of my Tuesday summer blog series called, "Getting Ahead of the Game." Each week I will give you a little project to help you be ready for August. Let's jump right in! 

This week's challenge is...Drumroll please! 

I like to have my forms ready for parents to fill out on Meet the Teacher Night. Why? Number #1: Parents can fill out all of the information right there and leave it with you. Small children's backpacks often eat papers. 
Number #2: I know how everyone is getting home, and my odds of losing someone significantly decrease, hehe. That First Day of School dismissal is killer...Amen!
 Number #3:  I feel like I already "know" my kids before the first day. 

Everyone has their own preferences for what forms they like and don't like. There are tons out there to choose from, but here is what I have ready for this year...

I try to keep it simple and just have one student information form. I like to copy it on colored paper so that it is easy to find in my student information binder. Download this form for free HERE. I always leave the back blank too, in case parents want to write me a novel. ; )

Each year I create a Meet the Authors board that includes a little biography of each student and a place that they can display their work. Read more about it HERE. I use this little form to create their biography. I leave it on each student's desk at Meet the Teacher Night so that they can fill it out with parental help if needed. It's just one more thing i can have ready to go!

Download it for free HERE

I also LOVE using Donors Choose to fund materials and experiences in my classroom. It's like Christmas when your stuff arrives!

 After a project is funded, pictures of students using the materials are shared with the donors. A photography permission form is required for each student. The beginning of the year if the perfect time to get this done too! Read more about how to use Donors Choose HERE

My school is currently in shambles. Really! They are replacing the roof and road and I couldn't go up there even if I wanted to. So I won't be copying anything until the school opens back up in August. There is nothing worse than creating something and losing it in the computer file black hole mess. I am all about folders this year. Exhibit A:  

I am keeping everything I need right here in this "Beginning of the Year" folder so I can just print and go come August. Score! 

DON'T FORGET: Make a few extra copies of everything so you are prepared when a new student comes. Avoid the new student scramble!

In years past I have created a classroom handbook that went over the routines and procedures of my classroom. It was really helpful! The only reason I quit doing it is because my team created a grade level handbook instead. It's nice to have all of the information in one place. Also, we don't even print out the handbook for parents anymore. We just create a QR code for parents to acccess the information online and send it in an email.

I used to have a Classroom Volunteer form, but last year I finally decided that I really don't use it. If I need help with something, I just include it in my weekly newsletter/email and parents respond on a need-by-need basis. I don't have time to look through 22 pieces of paper to see who checked the Take It Home Volunteer box. I think it's a great idea, it just didn't work for me; so I'm not going to waste my time with it this year. You live, you learn. : ) 

I know this week is a BIG challenge, but you will L-O-V-E yourself come August when all you have to do is PRINT. 

Just joining us? Check out the previous challenge below.

Getting Ahead of the Game, Week #1

I sure hope this post finds you on SUMMER VACATION! Today kicks off a little Tuesday summer blog series called, Getting Ahead of the Game. Every August I want to kick myself because I have so much to do to get ready for the school year ahead. This year I am going to try and do a little project each week to lighten the work load of August and get ahead of the game! I challenge you to join me... Do you accept?

This week's project is super simple! Are you ready?!?

1. Get rid of the junk mail!I get so many random emails that I never signed up for, and they add up in my inbox quickly.  Spend some time clicking the Unsubscribe button at the end of each email so they won't haunt you for another year.

2. Go through and delete any unneeded or unread messages! Won't it feel good to see that clean inbox with ZERO unread messages? 

3. Create a new email signature. Spend some time looking for a favorite quote to add to your signature, or link your class website or Facebook page. This will be at the end of every email you send this year, so let it work for you and save you time. Check out this great tutorial from Rebecca Coleman to get you started, or check out these free social media buttons that can be added to your signature. 

4. Create folders to get you organized! Create a Parent Communication folder to drag in important emails from parents, or an Action Needed folder for emails that require a response or something that needs to be done. Create a system that works for you!

These projects are meant to take less than an hour, be done at home, and help you feel good about going back to school. What are you waiting for? Get this checked off your list!

I hope to you see you back next Tuesday for "Getting Ahead of the Game," Week #2!