Before Your Students Arrive

  • Before Your Students Arrive

    Read more on how to implement these tips:

    Take an inventory of your math materials, considering loose parts and real-life objects that reflect your students' cultures and experiences. Identify the math resources you and your school have, then create a prioritized list of materials you might need to enhance your instruction. This should include manipulatives, games, technology tools, and culturally relevant math resources that showcase the diversity of your students' backgrounds. Organize your existing resources by topic and collaborate with other teachers to share and pool resources. This collaborative list can be especially helpful when requesting additional funding from the administration to support the acquisition of new materials that better reflect the needs and experiences of your diverse student population. 

    Craft a classroom that celebrates learning and fosters a love for math, reflecting your personality and students' interests. Incorporate elements that represent diverse cultures and backgrounds, making every corner of the room a celebration of diversity. Arrange furniture to promote collaboration and accessibility for all learners, with designated areas for group work, one-on-one instruction, and independent learning. Fill every area of the classroom with examples of how math is used in everyday life, careers, and different cultures, including literacy centers with math-based texts, science stations with math-infused experiments, and technology corners with coding games. Designate a " Math in Action" bulletin board to showcase student work, real-world applications, or " Problem of the Week" challenges, and include math-themed art projects on walls and shelves. Throughout the classroom, incorporate puzzles, math games, manipulatives (objects used for hands-on learning), and other engaging activities that cater to different learning styles, making math a part of every subject area. This intentional design ensures that students see the relevance and importance of math in every aspect of their learning experience.

    Connect with parents and build community. In today's digital age, it's essential to develop a plan to connect with parents and families in a way that's inclusive, accessible, and engaging for all. Start by sending regular updates through email, text messaging, or social media platforms to keep parents informed about their child's progress and upcoming events in the classroom. To make communication more accessible, consider offering multiple ways for parents to engage with the classroom, such as online resources, phone calls, or in-person meetings. Foster a sense of community by encouraging parents to participate in classroom activities, field trips, or volunteer opportunities. By being proactive and flexible in your communication approach, you can build stronger relationships with parents and families, increase parental involvement, and ultimately support student success. See tips on Communicating with Parents and Guardians. 

    Before Students ArriveKnow your students and set the stage for success. Before the school year begins, take the time to get to know your students by gathering information about their diverse needs and backgrounds. This includes identifying students who have Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) or other special accommodations, as well as those who are English Language Learners (ELLs) and require language support. Additionally, note students who have been designated as Gifted and Talented (G/T) and require additional challenges and support. Consider the cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic differences that may impact each student's learning experience. You should also administer screeners to assess where students are coming in, identifying those who may need targeted interventions or accommodations to successfully access the mathematics curriculum. With this information, you can create a more inclusive and supportive learning environment that meets the unique needs of each student.  

    Approach each student with a clean slate, avoiding preconceived notions or biases based on past performance or discipline issues. When issues arise, focus on providing positive reinforcement and support, rather than negative attention. This can involve offering additional responsibilities or challenges to engage students more effectively, providing targeted interventions or accommodations to help students overcome obstacles, and fostering a growth mindset and encouraging students to take ownership of their learning. By building positive relationships with students and families through regular communication and feedback, you can create a more equitable and effective learning environment that supports the success of all students. 

    Prepare for student success from day one. Prepare for student success from day one by establishing a clear and organized system for student assignments.  

    • Designate specific areas for students to turn in their work, using labeled baskets for each class period. This provides a visible and accessible space for students to deposit their assignments, creating a sense of structure and routine.  

    • Have a designated place for absent students to collect their work when they return to school. Each day, take care of work for absentees by putting their assignments in a labeled basket marked with the class period and "Absent Work". This puts the primary responsibility on the student, making it easy for them to find their assignments and reducing stress for both the student and teacher. 

    • To prevent lost assignments and encourage accountability, maintain a "NO NAME" folder where students can turn in anonymous work. When a student forgets to sign their name, ask them to check the "No Name" folder, which can be a fun and engaging way to remind students to label their work. 

    Invest in your own personal growth. Before the new school year begins, take the opportunity to invest in your own professional growth. Set a goal to enhance your teaching skills by adding at least one new book to your professional library, such as a mathematics dictionary that will aid you in your daily teaching. You can also leverage online resources by taking a course or workshop or explore opportunities for professional development within your school district or at a local university. Additionally, consider attending a local, regional, or national conference to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices in education. By doing so, you'll not only be better prepared for the new school year but also set yourself up for success and continued growth throughout the year. 

    Familiarize yourself with your school’s LMS. Gone are the days of scrambling with paper grade books! Most schools now utilize a Learning Management System (LMS) for grading and communication. Familiarize yourself with your school's LMS before the year starts, as well as your district's grading policies and expectations. Understand the district-wide grading scale, category weights, and any specific guidelines for calculating grades. These systems offer a plethora of benefits: parents and students gain real-time access to grades and assignments, reducing the need for status updates and missing assignment inquiries. Additionally, online grading streamlines report card preparation and eliminates last-minute grading panics. Remember, prompt feedback is essential for student learning, so aim to grade and return assignments in a timely manner, just as you expect students to submit their work on time. The increased transparency of online grading can also enhance accountability, keeping both you and your students focused on achieving learning goals. By being aware of your school's expectations around grading, you can ensure consistency and accuracy in your grading practices, providing students with a clear understanding of how their work is being assessed and what they need to do to improve.