Summer is (finally) here! Whether you’re teaching through the season, or taking a much-needed breather, there is plenty to do to prep for the next school year (it will be here before you know it, after all). Here are our top 10 tips for new teachers to get ready for the year ahead.
Yes, you have a lot to do. But you also need to take care of yourself. Whether it’s sleeping in, getting a massage, spending time with family, working out, or catching up on horrible (amazing) daytime TV, you need to stop and regroup. It was a good year, with some great kids—and you deserve some serious kudos for putting your heart into helping them learn. Now it’s time to do something just for you, before you hit the ground running, again.
Take some time to reflect on this past year. Ask yourself if you created a harmonious classroom environment. Evaluate your lessons, student progress, and the year overall. Were there areas for improvement? Was there anything you were particularly successful with? Did students or parents complete an evaluation of you? If so, go through them and come up with ways to make next year even better.
What made you want to be a teacher in the first place? You may feel burned out at the moment, but you chose this profession for a reason. Go to conferences and events, meet with mentors, read books or articles, travel, learn something new, do anything that ignites your creativity and makes you motivated to be an inspirational teacher.
Try to get your hands on next year’s curriculum as early as possible—review curriculum with mentors or peers and see how they are planning on changing things up next year. Start researching and brainstorming lessons and learning activities.
Create Lesson Plans
The beginning of the school year is always a little hectic—you’re getting to know new students, you’re meeting parents, you’re trying to get everyone acclimated to being in a new class. To keep focused and organized in the midst of the chaos, it’s a good idea to create lesson plans for at least the first two weeks of school, which brings us to our next tip.
Plan the First Day of School
Kids are likely feeling a range of emotions on the first day of school—from excited and enthusiastic to nervous and even a little scared. Plan some activities that set the tone for the school year—activities that promote peer interaction and getting to know one another. Have some fun before diving right into the course material—let the kids ease into a new routine.
Design Your Classroom
Think of a theme for your classroom that coincides with learning material for your grade. Brainstorm ideas for how you want the class to be set up, where you want to display student work, or have reading zones or relaxation or quiet stations. Do you want your room to be full of bright, bold colors, or do you want more subdued, calming tones? Do you want a modern, techy vibe, or a more organic, earthy feel? Whatever you decide, make your classroom a place the children (and you) will love to be.
Create Your Rules
Put together your list of classroom rules to go over on the first day of school—like no gum chewing, raise your hand to speak, no eating during class, etc. Consider writing theses rules on a big poster board and displaying them as a reminder for students. When you begin the Harmony SEL program, you’ll also come up with more rules as a class, regarding how to treat peers, and being inclusive and respectful.
Well, since you got such a huge budget to buy supplies and all, go to the most expensive place in town and stock up! You’re thinking, “yeah, right.” As a teacher, you have to kind of get resourceful when it comes to getting some classroom necessities—like pens, pencils, markers or crayons, dry erase markers or chalk, scissors, staplers, glue sticks, stickers, construction paper, bulletin board paper, storage bins, and of course lots of books! Go to the local thrift store, hit up some garage sales, head to the dollar store, or find some discount supply shops online for items to last through the year.
You will have lesson plans, assignments, student work, and then some more. Create a system that works for you—whether it’s a binder with dividers or some sort of file system (get out that labeler you got for graduation). Getting organized before the new school year starts, will help save you the headache of doing it when the papers are flying around the back seat of your car.
Just remember, you have one of the most impactful professions out there—shaping our youth to be awesome and smart. Good luck getting ready for the next school year, while trying to take some time for you, too.