What Should I Be Teaching the First Month of STEM?

Are you in a new STEM position and overwhelmed by the thought of what you are going to do the first month of school in your STEM class? It doesn't have to be as complicated as you think. 

Take a deep breath, and let's explore some practical ideas together. 

When I was preparing for my first year teaching STEM, I had no idea what to teach either. I teach my specials rotation Wednesday-Friday for students K-5. I have 4 rotations with over 600 kids. So I basically see each class 3 times/month. 

{My other days I co-teach in classrooms how to implement technology in meaningful ways and basic technology management & troubleshooting.}

I understand the importance of making the most of of your time and ensure that it's meaningful with kids. 

Having the background in the general education classroom before this position, helped me realize that a lot of the back to school stuff applied to my new space, just in a different way. 

Here is what I did and it really helped me have a successful rest of the school year and I think that it will help you too!

1. Teach Classroom Rules & Expectations
Every classroom needs to have a clear management system so students can feel safe and be successful in your space. Even if you don't have the students all day, this definitely still applies in your classroom, if not more, since you have limited time!  If you're coming from a general ed classroom like me, ask yourself those same questions that students need to know: 

  • How do you want students to come into your classroom? Where do you want students to sit when they first come into your classroom?
  • What are your restroom policies? 
  • What does it look like when you are teaching a lesson? 
  • What are your expectations during whole group, group work and partner work? 
  • How much time are you going to allow for a mini-lesson, student work time, clean up & reflection? (I need to work on my reflection piece for sure!)
  • Where do students line up at the end of class?
  • Is there some type of class reward for good behavior? What about individual students? 
Along with that, these have been my go-to classroom rules in my STEM classroom and they also work well in regular classrooms when students are handling technology. 

Click here or on the image to print these for your classroom!

2. Classroom Materials
This one took me a few months to get the materials in places that made the most sense. Like I said, I teach K-5 and it will definitely take some trial and error to have a system that works for all grades. 

For example, I thought having a bucket of crayons and scissors would work well with 1st grade. For some reason, this wasn't the best fit and there were a bunch of sharing issues. I came up with STEM Supply buckets which have the basic tools and student might need during a project. If they need the supplies, they can grab their own box. This really helped build independence with my students of all ages. 


Continuing with the independence, think about how you can organize materials so students can get the tools that they need successfully without having to rely on you every single second. I know baby ducks are super cute when they follow their mommies, but it's not super cute when students follow their teachers all around the classroom. 

Teach students how they can get their supplies, and put them away, for each class time and also which ones might not be needed for certain times. 

My 2 places that are off limits to students is my table with my computer and my 2 storage cabinets. Otherwise, everything is available for kid-use! 

3. Handling Technology & Passwords
I got really lucky and was fortunate enough to have a brand-new, renovated classroom to start my first year teaching STEM. The room before used to be a legit computer lab with desktop computers lining the walls. We reallocated those devices in other areas of the school building. The student technology I have access to majority of the time are a handful of Macbooks and a class set of iPads. 

My classrooms 2nd-5th are 1:1 when it comes to laptops (a mixture of various Chromebooks & Dell Latitudes). There are many times that I want students to bring their student device with them. I will schedule groups of emails to go out to my classroom teachers the week I have their class to let them know to have their students carry their student device to my room (with 2 hands of course) and/or roll down their class cart. 

I actually don't keep passwords on hand (I actually don't have access to that information), but we got into a good system that if students didn't have theirs memorized yet, they kept a sticky note on their computer as a reminder of their credentials. 

This is a system that has worked well in my building and has visually helped the students see that a lot of the work that we do in STEM class isn't just "stuck" in my classroom and can be done outside of my room. 

As a side bonus, there are less germs spread since we are so fortunate enough to have access to all those devices. This also lets me see how these devices are being used in class and other things that I may need to go over with the kids as a quick teaching moment (closing tabs out, staying on assigned websites, not changing the desktop background or settings...)

3. Digital Citizenship
This one can really be taught all year long and even in regular classrooms. However, especially if it's your first year in your STEM position, this works excellent for the first month. This will help you gauge what your students know and don't know about the topic. 

My two favorite digital citizenship resources are Google Interland and Common Sense Media

4. Team Building STEM Challenges
At the beginning of the school year, teachers are working hard to build up their classroom community and how all the students in the room can get along and be successful. You will be a huge help by doing different team challenges in your classroom as well the first month you have kids. 

Not only will this help students get to know one another in new ways, it will help you get to know them as well! There are millions of ideas on Pinterest. Start a new board with STEM Challenges or you can just follow mine here

We all know that the first month of school is crucial to help build the rest of the school year. Keep in mind though, it definitely won't be perfect. Here are some fails my first month of teaching STEM.
  • I didn't know that school's wifi password and people kept asking me for it. Which makes sense since I'm the STEM teacher... 
  • Half of my classroom walls weren't finished. They were temporary with an awkward door so I ended up making it a graffiti wall for students to sign when they were done with digital citizenship.
  • I had a first grader eat crayons the second day of class and spit them back in the group crayon bucket. I guess he already ate all his other crayons back in class...
  • A kindergartener wound up in the 5th grade hallway even though my classroom is directly across from hers.
  • I had these awesome fancy mats for students to sit on that sounded like pool noodles being slapped on wet concrete when they were put on the floor. Multiply this sound by 150...

It will ALL BE O.K.! You got this and you are qualified to teach in your position for a reason! 

To help you even more, here are all of my go-to materials to aid you in your STEM position; my STEM Starter Kit Bundle. Over 25 different resources to get your classroom started on the right foot! 


Let me know how else I can support you and me a message on Instagram @marvelousmsm

Stay marvelous! 

Naomi from Marvelous Ms. Meredith 

1 comment:

  1. Its really helpful!! I got help as a new STEM Teacher. :)