The one with first week plans for back to school

Back to school is upon us, which means you have to wrack your brain to remember what you even did at the beginning of last year. Don’t stress! I’m ready to share my first week plans for upper elementary with you.

First Week Plans are Here for Back to School

Key elements to my plans:

  1. Establish classroom culture. Build relationships, create a routine, and establish some structure to your day. What are your systems? Classroom helpers? How do we transition from one subject another? Can we talk while we work? How do we communicate? Can I be myself? Is this an open space to share about myself? I go into more specifics for this in my free kickstart your classroom management course!
  2. Practice, practice, practice. We practice the same routines A LOT. I try to make it fun and a game. Fourth graders are no stranger to the classroom (usually). They know (generally) what’s expected of them. So we read books, do “what not to do,” and “what to do.” All until we’re good to go. NOTE: Pandemic times are going to be SO different. Some of my babies coming in this year won’t have been in a classroom since March 2020. Patience is a virtue is something I’m going to be repeating to myself A LOT.
  3. Build stamina. Depending on your group, you may want to track stamina progress. For most routines, I keep track of time so we’re not doing too much focusing before pausing work. We will track our stamina progress during reading rotations because this is the time of the day when I need most of my students to be working independently or in partners without me. I want to be able to devote 15-17ish minutes to my small group. We do three rotations daily. No one is going to be able to handle that at the beginning. We’re going to start with 5 minutes of work time and then build from there.
  4. Regular brain breaks. For you, for them. Get some movement in if possible. Favorite ones include: Go Noodle, kids dance videos (search YouTube), Fit Boost (free movement- my students love this!), Art Hub for Kids, and Panda Cam. The panda cam became part of our end of the day routine last year. We would just relax, laugh, and watch it together before dismissal. There’s also a puppy cam (I searched by request last year), but it wasn’t as reliable to always have the puppies there. Or they would sleep a lot. For whatever reason, we got lucky with the pandas.
  5. Read alouds. All the time. I read aloud as much as possible during the first week. Picture books and novels. It’s relaxing for the kids, but also, a not-so-subtle push on my agenda for the year. Which is that I will get all of them excited about books. Need suggestions? Here’s a blog post on picture books and one about novels.
  6. Flexibility. Last but most important. I over plan. Too many activities, and I’m usually grabbing even more ideas, just in case. Whatever doesn’t get done can just get pushed to another day. The first week plans aren’t about pushing content. It’s relationships, routine, and structure. Part of my classroom culture is that if it doesn’t work, let’s change it. We need to show our students that it’s okay to switch it up.

Okay, are you ready for the actual first week plans? These babies were a labor of love! They have clickable links to the resources and books. Most of the resources are free. There’s also suggestions for what to use when you’re ready to plan that second week. ?

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