Smooth Sailing Back to School Tips & Giveaways {Erin Condren Teacher Planner}

Thanks for sailing into 3rd Grade Thoughts! I am a huge fan of my Erin Condren Teacher Planner and can't wait to give you some tips and tricks to help make it work for you this school year!


If you don't know about this planner, you can check out my video walk-through HERE to give you a good sense of each of the sections and extras this planner provides. I loved using it, but, like everything, I wanted to adjust a few things to make it work for me. Here are my top tips to help make your Teacher Planner work for you this year!

Tip #1: Change The Birthday Pages

The Erin Condren Teacher Planner comes with two large pages that say "Happy Birthday" on the top and a large section for each month to write in your students' birthdays. While I love celebrating my students' birthdays, I felt this space was wasted considering I have less than 30 students.

My tip? Grab some opaque washi tape (I used glitter since it's so fun!) and cover up the "Happy Birthday" on top. Then, grab some white-out tape to cover up each of the months. Now, you have two pages full of twelve blank categories for you to use as you wish!

I split mine up by left and right sides. On the left side are school-related lists I want to accomplish through the year, like books to read, projects to do, and Publishing Parties to host. On the right side are blog and TpT items I want to be sure I share with you all.


Tip #2: Use Washi Tape to Show Different Grading Periods

I love this tip! Washi tape is available at any craft store, Etsy, and even Walmart! Choose different colors and use them to separate the pages in your Lesson Plan pages by quarter/trimester/semester. We are on trimesters, so I chose three tapes and folded them over each page. Because washi tape is so thin, it won't bulk up your pages and will make it easy to see where you are in the year (and how much longer you have in the grading period to cover certain things!).


Tip #3: Use Printed Schedule Headers to Save Time

Like many of you, my schedule is set at the beginning of the year so the top headers in my Teacher Planner stay the same week after week. Because of that, I was getting tired of rewriting my schedule and times over and over again.

Solution: create a PowerPoint file that holds three weeks at a time! Now, I just print, cut, and attach with double-sided tape to the top of each week. Now, my lesson pages look uniform and easy for me and/or a substitute to read. Since I am only teaching half-time ELA this year, I took the last two columns to make "to do" sections, separated by a thin piece of washi tape.

You can see how the folded washi tape from Tip #2 looks in this picture, too!
If you're interested in these headers, I would love to offer you the freebie on Google Docs HERE! I made the top edges curved for you since I like that look better, and because it's in PowerPoint, you can adjust the colors and fonts to suit your own needs!! *For personal use only, please*

Click on the image below to download:

Tip #4: Use Stickers to Organize Each Month by Topic

I love the included stickers that are provided with the planners, and while I will use them for events on the monthly spread, I also like to use them when setting up the monthly notes.

On the back of each monthly spread are two notes pages. I color-coordinate my subjects and used similar colored labels from Erin Condren to divide up these pages. Here, I will brainstorm and plan all of the nitty-gritty details I want to make sure I hit during the month. This can range from spelling units to Publishing Parties to certain assessments. I will also include names of books I want to remember to read and themes I want to hit-- pretty much anything! I will start thinking about this over the summer and then add to it throughout the year, crossing things off as I go to make sure I hit them all. This has also been a great way for me to ensure I am doing the ideas I see on Pinterest, blogs, Instagram, and more. I'm always guilty of "Pinning and Forgetting" so hopefully this will help alleviate some of that!


I hope these tips helped get you excited to use your Erin Condren Teacher Planner, or any other lesson planner you're using this year!

If you'd like $10 off of your order from Erin Condren, click HERE to sign up and a code will be emailed to you!


Stop by each of these fantastic grade 3-6 blogs to read my friends' tips and find even more wonderful resources for Back to School!




Happy Back to School season, friends!!

Disclaimer: All planners were purchased by me. Links to ErinCondren.com above are my affiliate links. All opinions are my own and I only promote what I use and love!



329 comments

  1. This will be my first year in my own classroom, but last year I was a long-term sub in a 1st grade classroom at the beginning of the year. With 1st graders, it was all about practice, practice, practice! We practiced everything and it really payed off!

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    1. It is my first year teaching too! I love all these tips. Congrats and good luck!

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  2. I love the tips you gave. My question is what did you print your heading labels on? What size sticker/label? It all looks great!

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    1. I print mine on regular computer paper and then use double-sided tape to attach them to the planner. Full-sheet labels are really expensive and this is a great (and cheap!) substitute :) Hope that helps!

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  3. Organization and a flexible attitude makes the year start off great!

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  4. Start the year off organized!!! It helps to stay organized for the rest of the year... don't start with piles everywhere...find a place for it all, and make sure you stick with it!

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  5. Hi Stephanie!
    I have been following your blog for a while now and still can't figure out how you get it all done AND have a little one at home! You're quite AMAZING! I was wondering if you could give me some advice on how I get my blog up and running? Do you have two separate FB pages; one for personal use and one for school stuff? Also, do you use a Reading curriculum or just use novels throughout the year? I see you have many Word Work Bundles with different novels and I was thinking it would be nice to use them along with other novels throughout the year. Anyway, please send me your thoughts. I would greatly appreciate it! :)
    Thanks,

    Tessa

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  6. By starting off with classroom procedures (that I adapted from Harry Wong) for the first 3 days, everything else falls into organization!!

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  7. Just like others have mentioned - organization! I print off multiple copies of my class list and use them for everything! Incoming paperwork, homework, line order, breakfast count, behavior out of the classroom - everything! Thanks for the planner tips!!!

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  8. I prepare an extensive list of routines & procedures I want to teach, including scenarios that rarely happen. I like to be prepared.

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  9. Tip 3 and 4 are so SMART! I shy away from premade planners due to the rewrite each week. This will give me some options now!

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  10. My tip is to be very organized for the first day and have everything planned out exactly like you want to teach it. I make slides on my smartboard of all the procedures, activities, places for supplies, etc. that I want to do that day to keep me on task so I don't waste any time.

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  11. I love all of the tips you have shared! I just ordered my first Erin Condren planner and am excited to use it. Getting my planner set up/organized helps me feel ready at the start of the year!

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  12. My tip is to number everything and give each child a number. This helps in the organizing of things.

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  13. I LOVE the labels you created! I'm only teaching one subject this year and was thinking of making the seven columns the daily columns and the 5 horizontal rows the break downs of the day. Now I can play around with what you've created and make it work for me!

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  14. I try to have everything organized and mostly planned out before the year starts.

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  15. My tip is to get in your room as early as you can before you officially have to be there. I love that I can go in at my leisure and stay as long as I want to and get all the housekeeping chores done. I love that I can then focus on lessons/planning during my "official" hours.

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    1. I second this tip! I spent much of the last two weeks in my classroom cleaning and organizing and finishing all of those projects that I'll never have time to complete during the school year. I feel really good about my set up, and I'm happy that I'll be able to focus on lesson planning and collaborating when I officially start back tomorrow(!).

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  16. I think being organized and ready to start the first day gets everything off to a good start. Have your procedures in place and share your expectations with the students! Love your ideas for the planner. I am using it for the first time this year. THANKS!
    Gina

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  17. You've saved me so much time with all your creations! Love them!

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  18. My favorite tip: go with the flow because no matter how much you plan, you have to be ready for anything!

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  19. Start the year off right by getting organized over the summer!

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  20. Routine and procedures, enough said!

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  21. I try to make sure that I have the first few days planned with all materials laid out. A little preparation goes a long way!

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  22. The best thing I do is start the year off with rituals and routines. The more we practice, the more time we save down the line!

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  23. I always organize student supplies before they come on the first day - I love that my parents order school supply packs that are delivered directly to me!

    Thanks for your planner tips. I love my Erin Condren planner and will definitely use some of your tips to use it more efficiently!

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  24. Lists, lists, and more lists! :) Establishing a positive sense of community and getting down class routines! :)

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  25. Get advice from veteran teachers! They are the best!

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  26. Have a place for everything! Take extra time training and modeling routines! It will pay off in the end!

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  27. I love Erin Condren Planners! My tip is start organized and go over procedures again and again!!

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  28. Make student packets that have all the forms they need to fill out and such. Put a checklist of the front of it. When the parents send it back you just open it up check, check, check. .. then file it away. I made extras for new students I got throughout the year as well.

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  29. For some reason, it wouldn't let me post more on my last comment. Anyway, I'm brand new this year (3rd grade) and would love, love, love to win some things to help me in my classroom.

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  30. I try and pre plan my first unit so I can focus on the community building once school starts

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  31. Being overly planned and doing a taste testing of cookies then graphing them.

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  32. Last year I was hired only a couple of weeks before school started, so I wasn't organized and felt totally behind. This year I am going to school whenever I have some spare time, and taking things to school (I switched schools), putting things where I want them, and just doing whatever I can to get me and my room ready to go.

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  33. One tip I think is essential is to set procedures and practice practice practice the first couple of weeks.
    ~Lorraine
    Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies 
    Visit my Facebook page

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  34. I always make several to-do lists. What to buy, make, clean, etc. It helps me stay focused.

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  35. At the end of the year last year I made a master list of everything I needed to copy, organize, make/prep, etc. for the beginning of the year so I could get most things done over the summer! It has helped so much! :)

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  36. Wow, thanks for the fabulous organization tips!! I love color coding my subjects too & even color code my student's math module work (sprints, problem set, & homework).
    Kim

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  37. Be organized. Have a place for everything!

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  38. Having at least a 9 week jump start on lesson planning finished. This helps keep the stress level down and more wiggle room to be flexible. It is a nice way to ease my way back from summer.

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  39. My tip is to go in prepared to teach students expected behaviors and not assume they

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  40. Getting together with my team before school starts to plan together makes the year go much smoother for all of us.

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  41. I spend as much time as possible practicing routines. If it isn't going correctly, we pack up, clean up, and start all over again. This really helps them understand my expectations from the get-go.

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  42. My tip is to get back into your room as soon as you can to start decorating and preparing before school starts. It stinks only have a few days to prepare, so the sooner the better so you feel ready!

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  43. LOOOOVE all the goodies in this post!!!! I love washi tape!!!! My tip is to mentally and emotionally be recharged for another great school year!!!!! :)

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  44. This will be my first year teaching so I am trying to be as organized as possible and plan, plan, plan.

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  45. After setting the different areas in my classroom, I walk through and make sure there is a good flow for the various movement that happens during the school day. It helps to adjust things before the kiddos arrive!

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  46. Organizing everything ahead of time!

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  47. Always overplan! You never know how the first day or actually first week will go!

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  48. I have before school conferences. It helps me to get to know the students and their needs. It also opens the door for communication with parents.

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  49. I HAVE to be organized at the beginning of the year! I plan my year over the summer...so I am ready to go when I walk in! I teach reading to 3rd graders all day..and have created my own curriculum based on CCSS...its a challenge...but I LOVE it!!!

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  50. My favorite tip is to OVER plan for the first day of school. Anything not done can be easily transferred to the next day.

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  51. Routines, procedures, organization and lots of love!

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  52. One thing that really helps me at the beginning of the year is spending time at the end of the previous year sending things to the print shop. We get together and figure out what we will need at the start of the year and get it all printed and sorted before school's out. This has been a real lifesaver at the start of the year.

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  53. Organize and over plan. Always have something to pull out when plans don't.

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  54. Routines are important in the beginning. Repeat as many times as needed so it helps the rest of the year run smoothly.

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  55. Over plan, over print and over prepare.. It may not last long but it makes the first few days go a lot smoother!

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  56. Thank you so much for the EC tips! I love these! This is my second year using an EC planner and I love it but there is a lot of wasted space, especially the birthday pages. These are great and thank you for the schedule template. I too hated writing in my headings over and over.

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  57. Organization/giving everything a place and being ready with set procedures from day one! Make my school year much easier if these things are in place.

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  58. I make a list of all the routines and procedures that i need to teach and teach them a lot - until they become second nature.

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  59. i am creating a line list this year to help with classroom management. i saw it on another blog and thought, DUH! students stand in the same order and the paperclip/magnet moves down daily to indicate who is first, so kids are always rotating, but there is still structure!

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  60. To save time, I have labels printed for each student to put on their notebooks.

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  61. Thank you for the labels! I just put my subjects in, adjusted the colours to match our duotangs, and sent them off to Staples to print. Much prettier. I also got tired of writing the same thing each week. Too bad I don't have my timetable so I can put them on already. I also print notebook labels for my students to put on their notebooks. I put all lists in alphabetical order by first name so when supply teachers are in the room, they can find stuff easier. (They would know first names but not last names.)
    -Lisa
    Grade 4 Buzz

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  62. Establishing a routine and sticking with it helps me a lot!

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  63. Get a deep tissue massage the night before school starts. Great way to relax and be sure I will seep well.

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  65. A tip - get in as early as possible to get your classroom set-up so you can just focus on the lessons! Also, I have former students come in and help me do the easy things - set up lockers, make our folders, put tabs in notebooks, etc. Thanks for the giveaway!!!

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  66. A tip- create a back to school packet to send home to parents. Encourage parent/teacher communication and let them know how things in your classroom work!

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  67. Make copies before the "crowd" gets in. I'm sure everyone likes to do this!

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  68. Loved the ideas using tape in the planner

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  69. Be prepared and organized. Stop off the year with routines and procedures. Practice! Practice! Practice!

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  70. Have plenty of activities ready for the first couple of days of school. Some years you will need it, some you won't!

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  71. My school provides planners. Can you explain the benefits to buying one vs using the one provided?

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  72. I limit the amount of decorating that I do before school starts. The students provide work, and we create anchor charts or other documents that are relevant to the students currently in the room. It gives the kids more ownership.

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  73. I love the labels. Being organized makes the year go smoothly.

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  74. This is my first year starting from the beginning of the school year. So I have been writing down tips.

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  75. Thanks for this post. I am excited to get my first EC planner in the mail this week. I've been inspired by all of the cute things that you have shown for yours. I can't wait to put mine together. As far as having a good start to the school year, my biggest thing is for me to be organized so that way I have everything in order. Kids can tell when you don't know what you're doing, so I find it best to be over prepared. I also practice routines and procedures a lot at the beginning of the year and for several weeks. Some think that it's a waste of time, because it can take so long. I find that it saves me time on conflicts and behaviors as the year goes on when I take so much time at the beginning of the year practicing.
    Ana
    Mrs. Bentin's Blackboard

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  76. Having all my copies ready and most everything unpacked makes those first few weeks back less stressful.

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  77. I start the year being organized by having 2 weeks of plans prepped and ready to go with extras in case we go a different direction. I don't do a lot of decorating prep because of timing between getting into the classroom and the students starting. I usually decorate (the pretty things) after the first week over the weekend, so our first full week back it is a beautiful learning environment and it is open to student additions through the year.

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  78. I've come up with my own planner for this year. It combines my teaching day job and my tutoring night (well late afternoon) job. It's nice to create your own so you can tweak things to how you like them - but then you've managed to do this here yourself! I love the look you've created.

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  79. I start the year with having as many centers and copies prepped as I can! :)

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  81. I start the year by getting rid of materials that I haven't used to in a year or so.

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  82. Thank you so much for this post. I've been debating on whether I should fork out the money for an EC planner. They are pricey, but it seems like it's worth it. Again, thank you!

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  83. Thank you for this fabulous opportunity!

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  84. Organization! I printed a few things at the end of last year that I knew I'd need to start the new year. I organized all of my TPT stuff into binders this summer. I have a beginning of the year binder. I pulled out a few things I know I want to start with to print before the kids come. I created a few Google forms for them to fill out. Basic beginning of the year questions. This way I will have all of the information I need, all in one place. If you haven't used Google Forms, look into it! I can use the forms over and over. Lastly I started assigning my students a number for everything. Now I only need to make desk name tags and I can use the laminated numbers year after year.

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  85. I'm so excited! 3rd Grade Thoughts AND Erin Condren?! Made my day!

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  86. Getting in a little early and getting set up because I know those first few teacher days are always filled with meetings and trainings and I want my room the way I want it and if it's in order, everything else will fall into place:))))))
    4th Grade Frolics

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  87. Excellent tips and tricks. Thanks so much.

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  88. Labels & getting my first two weeks of copying done! :)

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  89. Excitement for the new year always helps!!

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  90. Thanks for the tips and change to win. Very appreciated.
    I would love you to visit my blog if you get a chance. ♥ Jamie at Mrs. Moore’s Ramblings

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  91. I have picture cards with our hot lunch choice, alternative lunch choice and salads. This has been a HUGE help with students knowing what is for lunch. No longer and I having to repeat the lunch of the day. Students simply look at the pictures posted and make their choice. It also helps with students switching lunch choices once in the cafeteria.

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  92. I can't get into my room this year until just a few days before Meet The Teacher, so I am working on a lot of stuff at home (printing, laminating, etc) so when I CAN get into the classroom, I'm ready to go!

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  93. Staying organized is key for me!

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  94. Don't get attached to the way you have things organized before the kiddos start! Flexibility is the name of the game!

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  96. Having a giant brown paper bag for each of the different school supplies that come in is a huge help! They pour in from open house to the 2nd or 3rd week of school, and it's super helpful to just be able to tell students to drop the supplies into the bag they belong in!

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  97. Organization is key. I have to get 3 different grade levels organized this year!

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  98. Hooray for planning and organizing!

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  99. So excited for this giveaway. Love using washi tape for planning! You've inspired me!

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  100. To get ready for the upcoming school year, I like to take some time in the summer to prepare. Doing this helps calm my nerves and helps me to focus on what is important.

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  101. I have wanted an Erin Condren planner forever! I love all of these ideas, had to pin them!

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  102. This is my first year teaching, so I don't have any "tips," but I am hoping it starts out smoothly due to all the preparation I have put forth! :)

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  103. Spend time getting to know the kids!

    Sally from Elementary Matters

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  104. Organize by using hanging file folders.....one fore each chapter in math or each story in the reading series. Then continue on with other subjects - grammar, science, etc....

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  105. Whiteboard to do list really helps me!

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  106. Get organized before preplanning starts!!!

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  107. Remember to take care of yourself, bring in healthy snacks and water/drinks on the very first day you return to prep.

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  108. I make a page of labels for each child and use it to label their folders, workbooks, and whatever else needs their name on it. Love all the comments!

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  109. I have detailed plans from the first day or two. I save them from year to year to make planning easier.

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  110. Stephanie-
    I LOVE my EC planner and your tips are great!! I use my monthly spread pages for notes on meetings or any PD's I might attend. That way they are all in one place and organized by month. Do you use the absentee log pages? I do not and thought you might have an idea for them. I hate to waste any pages. Thanks again for all your work and wonderful ideas.
    -Cari

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  111. Last year was my first time teaching, so I made lots of beginning of the year mistakes! One I won't make this year: when all those supplies come in, have bins ready to organize them RIGHT AWAY and have kids and parents sort them!

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  112. Greet each student with a smile and knowing them by name before they meet me. Building that initial rapport goes a long way.

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  113. Like you I do little things all summer long to help make the beginning easier. I have my first Erin Condren plan book, just came the other day, and I'm following your blog to set it up. I have planned out themes for the first few weeks of school as well as the weekly homework. The biggest thing I have started doing is leaving a blueprint of how I want my room furniture set up by the custodians after they clean out my room. I securely tape it to the closet door and this makes coming back to set up so much easier!!

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  114. Genuinely welcome each student with a smile.

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  115. I'm going to be a first year third grade teacher. Your tips are really helpful. I'm really trying to plan ahead and get organized!

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  116. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your WONDERFUL ideas!! Before the year starts I usually find out my kids' end of year book levels from their previous teachers (usually AR or other assessment). I fill a box full of books at their independent reading level, so that each one of them can come in and be independent and successful from the very first day! Thanks again for your blog. I'm a huge fan! :)

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  117. I am changing to third grade this year and your products are amazing! I'm excited to stalk your pins too to get more ideas! Thanks for all your creativity!

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  118. Great ideas for using the planner. I really need to get one!

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  119. Being surrounded by a positive and energetic school family always makes hard days brighter!!

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  120. I always make sure that I have all my procedures set before the first day of school and then it's model and practice, practice, practice to ensure a smooth sailing year :)

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  121. I usually try to have my room and organization done before that first week of school starts so that the first true week back which is full of meetings I am not completely stressed out bc in reality there is very little time that week to get everything done.

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  122. Grr! I forgot to sign in and I think Blogger ate my comment!! My idea for the Birthday pages was to use it as a mini gratitude journal for each month! My B2S tip is to prep bell ringers for the YEAR and file them, so they are 100% ready to go, and you will never have to battle for the copier to run them off again :)

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  123. One thing I like to do to start the year on a good note is to send my newest students an introduction letter to their home. Some of them are able to make connections to me before the first day.

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  124. I absolutely love your blog and all of your suggestions that you give!

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  125. I always like to begin the year very organized.

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  126. I always print multiple class lists to a page and glue or tape them to a manilla envelope so I can easily check off students names as they bring back required papers.

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  127. I love the video walk through of your planner. One thing I remember every year before school starts is to review my list of procedures to teach that first week.

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  128. Walk through the whole day in your head BEFORE you walk into the class....this will help with preparing your procedures and routines. Also, walk in knowing what you want and expect from your students...and what you will not tolerate.

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  129. Teach procedures over and over!!!! Also, I call as many parents the first few weeks as possible (I have ~120 students).

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  130. Don't stress...you know you will get everything done somehow and your year will start great!!

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  131. Set up the classroom and then test out all of the views from the student's perspective. We may think a poster is hung in the perfect location, but when we sit at a student's desk, we realize it may be seen the way we want it to.

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  132. To start the year out organized, I always type a student list and print several up. (Just a strip of paper with the student names.) I keep these as checklists for anytime we have something that is sent home and must be turned in. When collecting papers for the office, I paperclip a list to the front and check off students as I receive them.

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  133. Oh my goodness, thank you SO much for the amazing opportunity AND the teacher planner tips! I'm absolutely using those in my Erin Condren teacher planner this year!! Love them. =) ANYWAY, my best tip for a smooth beginning to the year is to plan in LOTS of detail, plan MORE than you need (just in case the attention spans don't last as long as you thought), have specific procedures to practice and give them LOTS of time to get them right, and laugh a LOT!! =) Enjoy those first few weeks...if you enjoy your moments, your kids will enjoy their moments too. Thanks again, Stephanie!! You rock!

    With love from a faithful follower!! =)

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  134. Like others have said, be organized but be felixible!

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  135. I always make sure that I prioritize my "to do" lists and update them frequently. It's easy for me to fall into the "Let's make it cute!" trap before the important things get done if I don't write everything down and prioritize. I highlight my top 3-5 things to do with one bright color and then use different colors for less important things. This helps me focus on what needs to get done right away with one glance.

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  136. One little thing I like to do at the beginning of the year is to take our school calendar (we have this before then end of the school year for the new year) and fill in all the non school dates and other important dates into the calendars we get from our Horace Mann guy. I also like to get as much stuff as possible taken care of in my room, although I never have enough time for as much as I want to take care of...

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  137. I like to setup all my students supplies in gallon baggies, so that the distribution is already done - I even have my own kiddos help with this! My 4 and 6 year old love to help mommy at work!

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  138. We play lots of getting to know you and community building activities the first few days of school. This helps set the pace for the entire school year!

    Aimee
    aimee@vanmiddlesworth.org
    Pencils, Books, and Dirty Looks

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  139. Getting an early start! I work really hard during the summer to prepare things for my classroom. It's already stressful enough starting, so this helps cut the stress down a bit. :)

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  140. Thank you for doing this give away and great tips!!!

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  141. Start early...& plan it out! (A planner sure would help with that!! =)

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  142. As the ENL teacher, a smooth start comes with going through the Home Language Surveys of new students (Kdg. and transfers) BEFORE the first day of school. In fact, before the last school year ended, I went through all the HLSs of incoming Kindergarteners and documented the necessary information for my new English Learners. Once we are back in school for the teacher days, I will communicate with the secretaries to have data on all my new kiddos. Then, on the first day, my assistant and I will be ready to help the new students (especially the Kindergartens) feel comfortable, assisting in Spanish as necessary.

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  143. You might have me convinced to finally splurge and get one of these planners! They look absolutely amazing.

    I'm new to the blogging world. Check out my blog:
    http://thepawsitivepencil.blogspot.com/

    -Katie
    I'm your newest follower!

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  144. Pack your things up in June so that everything you need to start in September is easily accessible

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  145. For a smooth start of the year, I emphasize classroom expectations and make sure I'm organized! Thanks for the giveaway and tips!
    Tammy DeShaw (The Owl Teacher)

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  146. Over prepare and be ready for anything! Being flexible is an important skill. Also, take as much time as you need to do lots of community building!

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  147. My favorite tip is to prepare! Before we are even allowed back into our rooms, I know how I want to set it up, the copies I need to make, and how I will design my boards. It saves me a ton of time!

    Adrienne
    Having Class

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  148. I am preparing a power point to use with my students to walk through our classroom procedures and expectations.

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  150. Okay, now following directions. I try to get all my copies for the first two weeks made before inservice week starts.

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  151. I teach every rule and procedure. I teach students the right and the wrong way to do each one. We practice , practice, practice. I teach about high expectations from day one.

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  152. I love glitter- I may have to get some of that tape. This year, I spent a lot of time getting rid of stuff I haven't used. I want my room to be clean, organized and minimal. I have accumulated so much that I can never find anything and it looked cluttered. I am also trying to prepare all of my early finisher choices. I usually write out every single thing I want to say and do with the kids on the first couple of days because I always forget important things.

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  153. My make my own planner and I include a copy of the district calendar, all the building documents that my principal hands out, and all of the curriculum for the year. Then, I have it spiral bound at FedEx for around $5. It saves my life!

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  154. In order to start the year smoothly, I like to keep my priorities in order. During the summer, it's easy to get caught up in many, many new ideas. However, as the first day approaches time usually runs out and you realize you can't do it all. Focus on students and how they will perceive those first crucial days. Building a community requires organization, thoughtfulness, compassion, flexibility, and a good sense of humor!

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  155. One thing I do to try and get the year off to a smooth start is to get into my room early (before other teachers are working in theirs), so I can clean out and reorganize. I like to have my quiet alone time to do this because I know if I wait too close to school, I'll just end up talking to my coworkers and not get anything done! I love your blog and all of your helpful tips as I am also a 3rd grade teacher. I would love to win an Erin Condren planner...thanks for the giveaway!

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  156. Being organized helps me start the school year off smoothly.

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  157. One thing I like to do is send all of my back to school letters and first weeks' student pages to the printshop before school is out in June (or at least by mid-July). Then everything is ready when I come back.

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  158. Labels and laminating are my best friends. I label everything so students know where everything belongs. I even label my cabinets, telling students which ones are open for them to take items from and which ones are off limits.

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  159. I like to allow my students to give their input when forming the class rules and expectations. Of course, I still have the final say and can often steer the discussion in the directions I think we should go, but including the students in the process gives them ownership of their classroom culture right from the start.

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  160. I like having everything organized in my classroom so that once school starts I'm still not trying to "set up." This makes it easier for me to focus on creating lessons.

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  161. I make sure that my calendar is up to date with all of the kids appointments, school schedule, etc. so that I can start our school year off right. I love the idea of using washi tape to distinguish different months in your calendar!

    Maureen
    maureen.tenney@gmail.com

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  163. Thank you for the excellent planner tips. Love the washi tape idea! I will definitely use your freebie stickers. Thank you!

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  164. I have everything as organized as possible - what I'm going to do, what I'm having the kids do, the room, etc.

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  165. Start early and have a good plan!

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  166. Organization, Pre-Planning, Flexibility and Practice, Practice and Re-Practice Procedures!!

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  167. Spending time organizing my desk and creating a logical space for everything I use regularly keeps the first few weeks running smoothly for me!

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  168. One tip that makes my school year start right, is having everything for the next day laid out and ready to go. Then I don't feel so rushed.

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  169. Great ideas! I especially love the planner! I had never heard of this type before! I am just like you! I even get excited about writing my grocery list at the end of the week! haha! :)

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  170. I love your lesson plan book. Thank you!!

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  171. I can't wait for this school year to begin! Thanks for the great ideas.

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  172. My school tip that I can't live without is not having all materials labeled that will be used by my students such as their cubbies, folders, and notebooks. Each material has a different label but I love that each student's number is all the same. So once they choose their cubby (nope my list isn't in alphabetical order) then that is their number for the whole school year.
    Kinders on the Block

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  173. My team and I have one set of file folders labeled week 1-36. Then we go to our year plan which is done by weeks and subjects and pull out all the masters we will need for each week. We get a copy mom at the beginning of the year who then pulls a file folder one week ahead and makes the copies for all 3 classes.

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  174. I make bags with extra papers so that I am ready when/if I get a new student!

    Ms. King's Kinders

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  175. I have a folder on my computer called "First Day of School" that I put/keep all of the documents/activities/forms that I typically use for the first day of school and that first week. It helps center everything that might otherwise be overlooked or forgotten but make those first few days such a strong foundation for the school year!

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  176. Thank you! Your blog is awesome and I love reading all the comments as well!

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  177. having my first few weeks roughly planned before hand so all I have to do is fine tune

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  178. I have a scavenger hunt with a list of things in the classroom my students need to find. It helps them notice where everything is located, and they have fun doing it!

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  179. Every year, I re-evaluate every single (well I try for every single) policy and procedure...I try to reflect on how it worked, how it could possibly work better, and if it didn't work I would come up with a new plan. Taking a virtual "walk through" of my day helps me be planned, organized, and prepared for those first days back.

    Jessica
    Little In Betweens

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  180. I make birthday bags for my students at beginning of the year that way when their birthday comes I can just grab the bag with card, pencil and eraser in it for them.

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  181. I have been back and forth about getting a planner. I LOVE mine from last year, but I just can't afford it this year. Getting a Gift Certificate would make my YEAR!

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  182. I also got tired of rewriting schedule and times, so I created a template. About half the teachers in my building are using my format. Saves so much ime, especially since we have to submit our plans electronically.

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  183. I love your washi tape idea! To get ready I have my sample interactive notebooks done.

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  184. AWESOME ideas! I love how you took an already great project, but customized it to meet your specific needs. You shared SUCH great tips, tricks, and techniques! Thanks so much!
    It's Elementary, My Dear!

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  185. I have never actually started a school year as a teacher yet, this will be my first year! EEK. If I had to give a tip though it would be to stay positive and smile because even if all else fails, you can still smile!
    Kayla
    The Chalkboard Garden

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  186. I am reading The Cornerstone for Teachers by Angela Watson and The First Day of School by Harry Wong.....great books for classroom management and getting ready!

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  187. I copy the forms I know I will need to start my year in the spring. The line at the copier can be long in the fall.

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  188. My tip is to always "over" plan. I come into the first week with a full artillery of activities. You just never know how your class is going to respond to you or what kind of workers they are.. it's better to be safe than hating life. :)

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  189. My best tip is for helping with the problem of pencils and sharpening. Our students bring in pencils from the supply list on the first day of school. I take these up and keep them in a storage bin. On the first day, I have a zippered pencil pouch for every student with their name on it and 8 sharpened pencils and 2 erasers. The students are not allowed to sharpen pencils. On Friday, a student helper collects the pouches and sharpens the pencils that need to be sharpened. If the student's pouch has all 8 pencils and they are in good condition (not chewed on, ect.), then that student will find a prize (sticker, decorative pencil, no homework pass, candy, etc.) in their pouch on Monday. It worked fabulous for me!!

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Thank you so much for your comments! :)
~Stephanie

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