Setting Up Secondary Classes

Organizing for teaching can be thought of in three different layers:

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  1. Organize yourself
  2. Organize your Students
  3. Organize your Parents

Organizing yourself is the first thing you should do to get ready for school. Here are lists to help you get started. Notice that you begin by organizing your instruction for the year. Then you organize the rest because the rest hinges on instruction.

Set Up Your School Calendar 

These steps are critical. They will make your entire year go much more smoothly because you will know what is coming and when. Take the time now because it is worth that investment!

  1. Add testing dates, beginning and ending of grading periods, birthdays, faculty meetings, holidays, parent conference days, early releases, library days (?), rotating classes.
  2. Map your curricula onto your calendar six weeks at a time..
  3. Map out your first six weeks of instruction.

Get detailed instructions on how to map your year and six weeks.

Before you start setting up your furniture, here's a Handy Hint-- Room arrangement depends on your lessons. Keep notes of the types of spaces you will need in your class as you map your curriculum.

Set up the teacher area of your classroom

GATHER furniture and supplies:

  • Table and/or desk, office chair, file cabinet, small bulletin board for yourself
  • Pens, pencils, markers (Sharpies and regular)
  • Paperclips, white-out, paper
  • Notecards, stamps, stickers
  • stapler, staples, staple remover, staple gun and staples for it)
  • Ruler, measuring tape
  • File folders and labels (come in handy for LOTS of things, #1 recycling folders)
  • Mirror
  • Clinic slips, bandaids (if allowed), nitrile gloves (to prevent exposure to blood and other body fluids)
  • Place to hang your coat
  • Trash can
  • Binders (2” and 2.5” are fine)

Set up record-keeping

  • Grade Book (online or hard copy)
  • Annual Teacher Notebook (2.5”)
  • Phone numbers—Make sure these are handy. You’ll want the numbers of your teammates, school administrators, school secretary, school counselor, and parents/guardians of your students.
  • Parent Contact Log set up by one student per page—You will document each time you talk to a parent. This record is very important. ALWAYS document these conversations. You WILL need those notes. Even, and sometimes especially, for the nice parents. EVERYONE.
  • Discipline Log—Date, time, where, what happened before, what happened, what happened after. If you even have to move a clip, jot your notes. As the year progresses, you will find that there are only a few students you will be writing about. Your notes will help you solve the problems.
  • Team Meeting Agendas and Notes—Handy Hint, keep a running “To Do List” separate from your notes so you can put them on your calendar.
  • Faculty Meeting Agendas and Notes—Handy Hint, keep a running “To Do List” separate from your notes so you can put them on your calendar.
  • Pacing Calendars—District and your personal annual planning calendar you made, above.
  • Lesson Plans—Divide by course/class period and then by grading period. So, under Math, you would have tabs for each grading period. When each grading period is over, you can store the plans in an expandable folder with all of the papers that go with that 6 weeks. It will save you next year and even this year (for evaluation purposes and proof of differentiation, following IEP's).

Set up your File Cabinet

  • Instructional Resources (By Subject and Unit)
  • Grade Period plans and materials as you complete them (see above)
  • IEP’s—Must be secure
  • 504 Plans—Must be secure
  • Test Reports—Must be secure
  • Grade Records—Must be secure—Handy Hint—Print your grade book at the close of each grading period for each subject you teach. Things happen. They really do, and it’s not unusual for grade records to accidentally be deleted (for example when students are transferred to a different class).

Create a Handy Substitute Spot 

  • Schedule
  • Lesson plans
  • Rosters
  • List of special issues (bullet style for quick reading)
  • Notes for each class period that include what students may have to leave and with whom.
  • Extra paper, pencils, a pen
  • Hall passes
  • Clinic Slips
  • Notepad for them to write you an update/reflection on the day
  • School map
  • Where the teacher restrooms are
  • Where lunch is usually eaten
  • What to do during your conference period
  • Who they can go to for help
  • Extra seat work for kids who finish early
  • Behavior management plan—the quick version!
  • Names of students they can depend on for help/information
  • Where emergency procedures are posted
  • Thank you note!


Organize for the Parents

  • Parent Information Flyer—consider mailing this home
  • Your name and contact information
  • Your conference times/tutoring times
  • Grading Period end dates
  • Homework expectations
  • School grading policy
  • School lunch policy (can they eat with their child, can they bring lunch for their child, etc.)
  • District or school attendance policy
  • School birthday celebration policy
  • Holiday delivery policy (e.g. if can they send flowers to their child)
  • Library day if applicable
  • PE information if applicable
  • Anything else you feel parents need to know

Organize for the kids

  • Write and publish your syllabus.
  • Make and Post your daily schedule in your room (kid size).
  • Make and Post your year’s knowledge and skill statements (broad learning goals) for the year front and center. Introduce your course with these and then refer to them as you enter that unit of study. Helps student organize their thoughts.
  • Prepare student table supplies and ensure that they are accessible without leaving the table area. --Scissors, glue, markers, colored pencils, sticky notes, dictionaries, journals, interactive notebooks, dry erase boards, dry erase markers, dry erase erasers.
  • Set up a Class Organization Table with a bin or folder with homework copies (extras); baskets for turning in work; basket for turning in permission forms and other forms from parents; pencil exchange; reminders posted; restroom, clinic and office passes; log for signing in and out of class; pencil sharpener.
  • English/Language Arts classes—Bookcases filled with books organized by genre  and interest
  • Place for students to hang up their coats
  • Decide where students will keep their backpacks.
  • Student planners or folders for homework and classwork organization
  • A secure place for students to leave cell phones

Design your learning environment

Keep these principles in mind:

  • SAFETY FIRST—clear doorways
  • Color affects mood and energy level
  • Lighting affects mood and energy level
  • Clutter is distracting—minimize as much as possible, always straighten up
  • Furniture layout changes with activities for learning, so keep it flexible.
  • ALL students should be able to see the board—arrange so no one has their back to the board
  • Cords are a tripping hazard—tuck them away
  • You’ll need an area to bring a small group of students to you to work

These tasks should get you well on your way to be organized for the year!



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