Getting Started With My Lessons, Setting Up Your Class

You should be able to start teaching from my lessons immediately, after a quick trip to the copier to copy some masters and a read-through of the lesson and the skit to orient yourself. But here are my recommendations for long-term organization and set-up for using my lesson plans.

1. Read or at least glance through the "Setting Up and Managing Your Classroom" (levels 1 & 2) or "Organizing and Executing Great Lessons" (levels 3 & 4) section at the front of the book. There you will get a ton of quick info on everything from classroom arrangements to how to do skits and manage your students' behavior.

2. Make a copy of the master vocab list.
You're going to want one you can refer to as you teach and plan as well as one for students. For you, the master vocab list is at the very back of each lesson plan book. For students, all my high school plans have a student vocab list on the CD-rom with Spanish in one column and a place to write in the English in the other column. Make a copy for each student and pass it out before you start the first set of vocab and skit. This is where your students will keep track of what vocab they are responsible for learning, and they need to keep it in their Spanish binder at all times.

3. Set up hanging files by lesson.
Use those plastic tabs that stick up and label them "1A First Day, 1A L1," and so on. One entire semester should fit in a standard-size file drawer. You can make the tabs as you fill the hanging files with copies and other stuff for each lesson as you do it; no need to fill the whole drawer all at once. (Although I did have a very hardworking colleague a few years ago who did that!)

Make the copies and storyboard pics you need for the first couple of lessons. For readings, I re-use the same class set of 35 - 45 copies (extras to replace ones that get torn, written on, etc.) and I keep them in these hanging files. For storyboard pics, you can either just copy my stick figure storyboards as-is and pass those out for them to tell the story from, or do as I do and take the time to cut them apart and mix them up in baggies (I actually had my student TA's do this.) You only need enough for half your class because two partners share one baggie. These hanging file folders also contain your grammar worksheet masters and master homework assignments. Basically, everything you need to be able to conduct each lesson in one place by lesson.

You'll reuse these files year after year, so the first year requires the most work, but after that, you can just grab a hanging file, go make the copies you need, and you'll all set for that lesson.

4. Set up your handout organizer trays by class/prep.
I have three preps right now so I have three stacks of plastic organizing trays. On top is extra copies of the syllabus and vocab lists, along with other random things like the word count charts that I need all semester long.

Next tray down is usually where I keep my "Jalen Waltman's" lesson plan book, so I can grab it when that class comes in and teach from it.

Next tray down is for class set copies of the reading for the lesson of the day.

Next tray down is miscellaneous for the lesson, or sometimes things for a lesson ahead. You could put storyboard pics here. (I keep mine (since they are in baggies) in a couple of white rectangular baskets on the shelf next to these organizer trays. Two baskets = one for each side of the classroom, for quick pass out and collection of the baggies.)

Bottom two trays hold grammar worksheets, homework assignments, and the upcoming test and practice test once I have those copies made. I stack these in the order needed, and there are often more than one lesson's worth in the stack, but it helps me keep track of what we've done and what's coming up. Also, you can grab these when a kid asks you for pre-absence makeup work to take home with them.

5. Read through the skit and gather any props you plan to use.
I have my props loosely organized by type/theme, and I try my best to keep everything in the same baskets and the baskets in the same order, so I can grab things quickly as needed for a skit. So to be honest with you, I don't always assemble what I need in advance because I can grab things so quickly from these baskets by memory.

For example, across the top are baskets with accessories for dress-up, like scarves, a tie, glasses, a purse, devil horns, angel wings, enormous gold chain necklaces, old cellphones, and play money.

Next row down has a basket for gathering props for the day's lesson, a basket with miscellaneous props like empty water bottles, shopping bags, old CD's, and a fanny pack. The big white basket is all food, and next to it is bathroom/getting ready props like an empty toothpaste box, comb, posterboard blowdryer, and a couple of towels.

Bottom row has another random prop organizer tray, cooking utensils and apron, wigs and hats, and finally a basket with a bathrobe, a man's blazer, and a fleece throw blanket.

Don't panic if you don't have any props. You can collect and make things over time, use old stuff from home, and/or ask for donations from students of toys and things (this is how I got an entire bin of small stuffed animals when I taught middle school, and the kids LOVED adding to my collection from their old stuff from home.) You can also just use whatever you have around the classroom. A stapler can be a phone, a binder can be a laptop or a pizza, pencil cups can be a can of coca-cola, etc. Sometimes that's even funnier than having real props.

6. Relax and grab a cup of coffee or green tea.
You're all set to teach. Oh, behind me in this photo is a list of the activities for the day on the board. Optional, but keeps the constant "What are we doing today?" questioners at bay.

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