Y’all, can we just talk about how stressful and chaotic the beginning of the school year is?!? In my experience, I got into my classroom abut 10 days before the first contract day. Then, once we were on contract time, most of that time was spent in semi-useless P.D. (sorry former admins!) and like 2 minutes to get ready for Back to School Night. Bahhhh!!!
It took me a couple years to figure out my organization strategy for back to school paperwork.
And then! Ugh, and then, about three weeks after the first day, you’ve finally got your routines set up, your kids are jivin’ with each other. You’ve FINALLY gotten back all the paperwork you sent home. And then a new kid pops in. Now you’ve got to shuffle through everything, figure out what it is you need to give this new kid.
Or, better yet, they show up the next semester. You don’t even remember what you sent home on Day One.
Hey friend, I got you! And that’s what I’m writing about today- beginning of school paperwork organization.
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Where my First Year Teachers at?!? *insert girl hand raising emoji*
I got you, too. Because this first section is a list of some of my top recommendations for beginning of school paperwork you need.
Key Beginning of School Paperwork
Here is what I learned in my six years in the classroom. Parents HATE filling out “All About my Kid” paperwork. They’ve just had their kid home with them for the better part of the last three months and all they want is to get this kid out of their hair all day. And now you are asking them to talk about how great their kid is?!?
Okay, not really. Well, maybe. But think… if they have two or three kids, imagine filling out that paperwork for THAT many kids!
Emergency Contact Info
You still need this info, but consider getting it a more creative way. Like with a google form.
I’m still salty about the fact that it took me four years to try that strategy. But let me tell you, IT WORKED! Parents were more willing to fill it out. It was different. And it all compiled into one nice neat spreadsheet for me. I asked for things like phone number, email, names, but also things like t-shirt size (HELLO, GENIUS FOR THE KIDS THAT DON’T EVER RETURN THOSE PESKY TSHIRT FORMS!) and photo permissions.
The only issue I encountered is that many of my parents spoke Spanish and did not use much technology at home. Some parents were unsure of how to do it. But they either had a big brother or the kid themselves knew how to operate the iPad and could help out their parent.
Here is a video of how I created the form for Meet the Teacher Night. Head to 1:34 in the video if you don’t need an intro on how to access creating a google form.
Like I mentioned above, I ask for t-shirt sizes. But Back to School Night is a great time to get their money too. Our team never had it quite together enough to have t-shirt designs decided and forms made. But I always wanted to just go ahead and get that info on Meet the Teacher Night.
All About Your Kid Paperwork
I really enjoyed asking parents to fill out a worksheet detailing their kids favorite books, biggest fears, favorite foods, their reading ability. The parents goals for their child. This is the one I used (I don’t know who or where I got it from, so if it’s you, let me know!) But I know parents disliked it.
I would recommend sending this home a few weeks after school has begun.
I think it is SO important to send home information explaining your expectations for your classroom. I always used this foldable with info about our classroom (behavior management plan, homework expectation, attendance importance, etc.).
But I have also seen a ton of these on Pinterest and TPT and I think they are so cute!
First Day and Week Transporation
On Meet the Teacher Night, I always stood at my doorway. I greeted each student first, then their parents. I also always introduced myself by my first and last name (to parents). Then I would immediately direct their eyes to the Parent Sign In and First Day/Week Transportation list.
This information is SO crucial to surviving day one!
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Beginning of School Paperwork Organization
Back to School Folders
Everything mentioned above (that could) would go into my Back to School Folders. In the folder was a sticker on each side of the pockets with a “leave at school” and “take home” label. I then sorted all the paperwork I had for parents + the paperwork from the school into the appropriate pocket.
This was helpful because parents could easily see what they needed to take care of on Meet the Teacher Night as well as what they could take home.
Plus it was helpful for me because it kept all the back to school paperwork organized. I could just pick up the folders at the end of the night, put them in number oder (kids last name, alpha order) and put them in my filing cabinet.
Any kids who didn’t come, I had their folder ready for them on the first day.
New Student Baggie
After a week or two passed from the first day, I took all the paperwork out of the folder and put them in gallon size bags. I usually made three to four of these.
When I got a new student, no matter what time of year, I had all of the paperwork for the parent ready to. I literally just opened up my filing cabinet and pulled out a bag and handed it to the parent before they left.
Beginning of Year Organization Prep
Okay, this is a little section I wanted to add in with a couple of really important things I create at the beginning of the year to help me stay organized all year long.
Curriculum Mapping Guide
I blogged about this last week, but a curriculum map tailored to your specific needs is crucial to having in your lesson planner before the first day of school. You can outline every single week of the year, what units you will be in what lessons you will be teaching, even what specific resources you want to be intentional about using.
Student Data Tracking
I also created a google sheet for student data tracking throughout the year. But I always started it as soon as I got my class roster. Maybe one day I will create a video showing how I used this, but for now I will just share a view of mine for you to look at!
Okay…well I was going to post a photo of it, but apparently I stink and did not do a good job gathering stuff of my google drive before my school account was disabled…. I have added this Data Tracking form to my “to do” list and will make one to share with you all soon! 🙂
Alright, I feel like that was a lot. But I started typing and it just kept coming out! Back to School is a really fun time but also overwhelming and stressful if you don’t handle it in an organized fashion. So create routines for back to school and refine them each year! Write down (or type) what you do specifically for Meet the Teacher Night so you can refer to it next year. Also be sure to include notes about what didn’t go well and needs to be changed.
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Until next time,
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