By Barbara Baditoi
It is now Thursday, and your open house is Friday. You have spent precious time this week completing required teacher activities — and now panic may be setting in. Sometime during the week before school officially begins, elementary and middle school students will visit the building to meet their teachers and view their classrooms, while rising and transfer high school students may attend open house to pick up their class schedules.
Although your room should be inviting, warm, and welcome, remember that classroom atmosphere and environment is generated in part by the tone of the adults and students in the room. That will come as the year progresses. For now, you need to organize the desks, computers, SMART Board, and so on; decorate the walls; and post room and school rules.
One of the first questions elementary students ask is “Where do I sit?” Clearly post visuals and names to help them locate their desks and other routines and procedures they will need to follow. Put up weekly and daily class schedules and, for students with more severe needs, post individual schedules. Curriculum-related material, including state- and district-wide goals, should be readily available. Parents will be pleased to know you will be following a district- and state-mandated curriculum appropriate for their child. Prepare packets of material about your classroom for the parents and include important items such as the bus schedule and the cost of lunch.
What do you want your room arrangement to project? Co-teaching situations will require two teacher desks and therefore establish parity and shared responsibility. If you are a resource room teacher or you share space with other colleagues, students and parents will note a divided room that is still inclusive and welcoming.
Are the computers turned on to an appropriate computer program? Maybe the students can post a quick blog about themselves. Are other assistive technology materials readily visible in the room?
Finally, think about the first impression you want to make. If you are a first-year teacher, this is the day you have been waiting for. If you have taught before, this is your opportunity to make changes. Enjoy the moment: you are now ready for school to begin.