Teaching can be so very complicated between paperwork, planning, grades, and meetings that we NEED a handbook! And, we haven’t even begun adding in parents, emails, phone calls, administrators, and kiddos to all these balls that we are juggling daily. We here at Education to the Core are ready with a relatable A to Z Handbook for Primary Teachers that will hopefully make you smile and may give you some ideas to make your workload more manageable. Letter K is the best part! ❤️
A – Amazon
If you haven’t already, you should fall in love with Amazon today. This is your one-stop-shop for everything and anything you may need for your classroom and beyond. From expo markers, sensory putty, and steam bins to wine and pajamas, Amazon has you covered!
Letter B – Books
If your classroom is anything like mine, you have books! Books for kids, books for professional development, books on behavior, leveled books, chapter books, etc. And, if your classroom isn’t wall to ceiling books, look to A, Amazon!
C – Crayola
Is there really any other brand? Do not feel guilty for asking for Crayola markers, colored pencils, and crayons on your student list every year! Crayola is the best!
D – Document
A parent called. Document it. Sammy hit Timmy. Document it. Jan was late for the 3rd time this week. Document it. Susie sneezed 3 times. Document it. Do we even have time to teach anymore? To remain focused on my class, I do this now with the use of voice to text on my phone and then transcribe on to paper later. Kids have become so used to it in my classroom that it doesn’t distract at all.
Letter E – Emails
As teachers, we send and receive tons of emails daily. Some important tips to try: 1) In everything you communicate to parents, be very specific about your hours. If you only wish to respond before 4 and never on weekends, be explicit with this and stick with it! 2) Create folders within your inbox and move those emails that you may need to refer back to later into a corresponding folder; searches will be so much easier and you won’t need to print a paper copy!
F – Flashcards
Letter cards, sound cards, word cards, number cards, add/subtract cards. How do you organize yours? For me, I have a few plastic shoe boxes labeled ELA, Math, Students, and Other. If I need to do a quick assessment of a student, I grab one box. If I need to do a quick time filler game with words or math problems, I grab one box. Then with my centers, I grab only from the box labeled students and keep mine pristine!
G – Games
Finding storage for all of my games was tricky. Pieces got lost and mismatched while box corners were torn. I have switched so many of my games to file folder games or letter-sized envelope games now and my OCD has thanked me! I use handled file folder tubs which I labeled similar to my flashcard bins, ELA, Math, Students, and Other. In each folder or envelope, I include the instructions page as well as a photo of the game set-up. No more time spent trying to stack boxes that won’t even close.
Letter H – Hugs
There is nothing that gets me through even the toughest of school days more than hugs! I love my students and co-workers and definitely welcome all hugs, big and small. When COVID is done, I have built up hugs for every student and staff member! If you are not a huggy teacher or co-worker, work on that smile or wink! We all need connections!
I – Internet
Moan, groan, growl. The Internet for me is absolutely wonderful. I love anything Google. That immediate access to an answer for any primary student’s bizarre question is amazing! However, and this is huge, why does it betray me so much and not work when I rely on it so often? If any of you can answer that question, please contact my IT department!
J – Junk
Junk just piled up. On my desk. All the time. Broken crayons, too small pencils, chewed on erasers, wrappers, paperclips bent into gizmos, scraps of paper, objects from homes, lost game pieces, partially chewed anything. What wasn’t left on my desk, I found in my pant pockets when sorting laundry. My solution to this for myself: no more teacher desk. And just like that, the junk has now ended up wherever else it belongs. Goodbye junk!
Letter K – Kiddos
They are the BEST! Kiddos are the WHY! They are our HEARTS! No classroom is complete without them!
L – Lesson Plans
Find a site that you love and learn the copy and paste features as well as the move forward feature! I personally use Common Curriculum and love it! It saves me so much time to copy and paste standards, objectives, materials, and accommodations, and then hit print when I am done filling in the specific activities. I love having the fun binder with my lesson plans neatly organized inside as well as the access from anywhere with my log in.
M – Manipulatives
Counters, chips, blocks, coins, mini-clocks, counting bears, counting dinosaurs, Unifix cubes, place value cubes, and other little plastic objects are essential for your classroom. Providing visuals and manipulatives for concepts helps link the learning for the students. I always put a small portion of all of my manipulatives in Ziplocks in my centers so that students can get used to using them on a regular basis. I find that although there may be excitement when introducing a new type of manipulative, that excitement does not outweigh their early exposure and fun with these objects.
N – Nurse
Let’s face it, we clean up boo-boos, help with noses, comfort with tummy aches, and provide band-aids routinely. We serve as moms, dads, lunch servers, maids, and nurses with all of our students at some point. I keep a small tote filled with wipes, kleenex, cream, lotion, band-aids, and gauze so that I can take care of the small things within the classroom. Nothing is more disruptive than 6 kids wanting to see the nurse when you are trying to teach. However, if you do bandage that knee, DOCUMENT it!
Letter O – Observations
They are a necessary part of teaching and growing but can someone please explain why they are never done when it works best for the kiddos in the classroom? I have learned over the many years that I change nothing for my administration. No fancy lesson unless it was already in the plans for that day. No inclusion of other staff unless it truly fits the nature of my lesson. If the purpose really is to help us grow as teachers as we receive critiques, then I want them to see the real me.
Every lesson doesn’t go as planned for me. Some lessons have fewer bells and whistles. The Johnny never sits still and always interrupts work, me. Then watch and comment on how I can change things on a dime, bring everyone back to the task, make anything as fun as possible while still teaching, and still not lose my mind.
P – Paperwork
Does anyone else feel that there is some administrator sitting in an office somewhere thinking up unnecessary paperwork to add to our list of other unnecessary forms we routinely fill out? To stay on top of paperwork, grades, assessments, forms, and other due dates, I rely heavily on a datebook. I mark things as due at least a week in advance and NEVER extend that expectation on myself. It doesn’t work for everyone but staying ahead is so much more relaxing than always trying to catch up.
Q – Quiet
Can I get some please? 5 minutes? OK, we are going to play the quiet game. My most talkative never stops, can you please stop little guy once went 2 hours and 40 minutes without speaking. He wrote his answers on a piece of paper (fantastic practice for him). Do I want perfect quiet all day? NO! But I do pull out a timer occasionally and say if we can be quiet for 5 minutes, I will add that 5 minutes to recess.
Letter R – Recess
Speaking of recess, I choose to be with my kiddos for all recesses and love it! This is the perfect time of day to cement my relationships with the kids, check in on them, and let them know I am there for them. If you don’t want to every day or even for a full recess, bop in on a recess once in a while and be a kid!
S – Shoelaces
Don’t touch them to help tie unless you already understand, they may be wet and it isn’t raining outside! If I had a dime for each time I have helped with shoelaces and shoe tying, I would be vacationing on a beach right now. Parents, please for the love of me not touching wet laces, please teach your kids how to tie their own shoes!
T – Teacher Besties
You need a bestie at school. You need a squad at school. Someone to run ideas off of, vent to, and provide comfort to daily. A teacher who will talk you off of the ledge and build you up like a skyscraper. Someone who knows what you like in your coffee and someone who will share their snacks with you.
Letter U – Unnecessary Meetings
It should have been an email. An email that you could put into an inbox folder so that you can refer to later. But if you must attend, play a game of squad bingo with squares such as “Someone says oh one more thing, then says 5 more things”, “Someone clicked pen throughout”, “Someone asked a question when the principal said, any questions?”, “So and So twirled their hair”, etc. You will all be winners in your squad!
V – Virtual Meetings
I can’t even. Refer to Z for ZOOM.
W – Wash Your Hands
Did you wash your hands, go wash your hands, wait while I wash my hands! As a teacher, you will find yourself saying that to your spouse, your neighbors, and your relatives during family get-togethers. We are the keepers of clean hands!
Letter X – Xtra, Xtraordinary
Teachers are extra, extraordinary. You are all extraordinary!
Y – You!
YOU are amazing. Take care of yourself! YOU are worth it! YOU ROCK!
Z – Zoom
I still can’t……..
And there you have it–The A to Z Handbook for Primary Teachers. Hopefully, you got a chuckle or maybe a few words of wisdom. We definitely understand and appreciate you and your workload! If you have something that you think fits this list, we can’t wait to hear from you!
Written by: Suzanne Kelley
At Education to the Core, we exist to help our teachers build a stronger classroom as they connect with our community to find trusted, state-of-the-art resources designed by teachers for teachers. We aspire to be the world’s leading & most trusted community for educational resources for teachers. We improve the lives of every teacher and learner with the most comprehensive, reliable, and inclusive educational resources.
If you enjoyed what we have to offer at ETTC, be sure to join our email list, so you won’t miss a beat.