5 steps to get ready for Back to School (Part 1)

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Material organization

Here in Spain, parents are asked to buy pencils, glue, erasers and so on. Sometimes, they are also asked to give money to buy supplies needed by the school for the year. But whatever the case, at the beginning of the school year we find ourselves with 25+ kids with their hands, and backpacks, full of material to organise. Sometimes we the teachers are the ones responsible for organising them and  sometimes we just teach English in that classroom which means that the material is already organised but even though there is always margin to arrange things to each teacher’s liking.

Here are a couple of useful tips on how to arrange material in the classroom.

2 important things to think about beforehand:

– Who is going to organise the material?

– Who is going to have access to the material?

Who is going to organise the material?

Let’s start with the first question which can either be done by the teacher, the students or a combination of both. If you decide to do it yourself, think about how your class is going to flow, if you are going to do crafts often you might want to have the material readily accessible for every class but if you are only going to do crafts during special celebrations you can have them out of reach(and out of sight) until that day.

That said, students can easily be involved in this process. Use your first class to present or review classroom items. For this,  you can use Ken and Karen’s story, My schoolbag. Organise the class in groups and ask them to make labels for the different items and then ask them where they think will be the best place to put them. If possible, follow their recommendations, if they’re not feasible explain why and suggest a new location.

Always remember, whenever students are involved and have a say in something they are more willing to use them, to feel responsible and to care about them.

Some links to labels are:

Stationary labels

Classroom labels

Classroom organization

Who is going to have access?

You might think that the only way to have materials survive until the end of the year is if you are in control of the material all the time. If this is the case, you might need to set up a routine for the way you distribute and collect all the material without wasting too much class time. Think of commands you can teach your students that are simple to understand and use them to follow instruction and learn key language at the same time.

If you want to involve your students, place the material so that it is easily accessible, not only in an open cupboard but also at their height where they can actually reach. You need to think how they are going to be allowed to take and put back the material and how they can be responsible for it. Setting up different groups can be an option or pairs of students responsible on alternate days can work. To ensure you still have material in good condition at the end of  the year my suggestions are: involve your students when placing and labeling the material and use group pressure to help stop naughty students from spoiling the group’s material.

Even if it’s not your classroom you can always ask for a little space where you can store and label your English class material. This helps students to reinforce the classroom vocabulary and can add some excitement when using different material during the English hour.

What’s the situation like where you teach? Do parents contribute to the school’s materials? Do the children need to buy books every year or are they loaned? I’d love to hear what it’s like in other places.

Welcome back to school!

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