How to Prepare for the School Year as a Teacher
At the end of the school year, the last thing you want to think about is next fall. Go ahead feel free to relax, breathe, and rejuvenate during your summer break. When you are ready to think about the upcoming school year, here are some tips for making it less stressful.
Identify what stressed you out in the classroom out last year.
Especially identify any stresses that bled over into your personal life. As a teacher, you can never leave work at work. Too often, teachers spend a lot of personal time doing things for their class or stewing over classroom issues. Pinpointing negative things helps you explore positive solutions to make your home life more enjoyable.
Study your workload issues. Reach out to other educators including veteran teachers through personal connections, social media, or blogs. Determine a plan to make things run smoother next year.
Review state and school district standards and curriculum. Build a focus for the year.
According to Robert Marzano, author of The Art and Science of Teaching: A Comprehensive Framework for Effective Instruction there are more set grade-level education standards than time to teach. As such, he recommends developing a laser beam focus on a few crucial high-priority standards and teach them really well.
With your focus in mind, map out a pacing guide for the year. Remember a student’s learning may best be enhanced through activities and movement. Search for and include plans for appropriate associated activities.
Once you have a focus for the year, determine a classroom theme to build your classroom around from décor to physical classroom arrangements. Doing so will set the educational tone from the moment students first arrive at the start of the school year.
Virtually organize your classroom.
If you do not have access to your room, get the measurements and projected class size from your school. How do you want students to interact with each other and with you? How do you want them to move about the room and get supplies?
Picture it in your mind and draw it on paper. Most often, you will not get into your classroom until a few days before the first day of school. During those few days, you have staff meetings and teacher development training, too. Having a pre-determined physical classroom plan will make those few days significantly less stressful.
Rehash classroom procedures and routines.
What works well? What needs to be revamped? Technology has changed a great deal since you started teaching. Incorporating technology into your classroom generates student attention and growth, but it can be tricky, too.
Write your new procedures and routines down to help solidify them in your mind. Writing them out will give you clarification and make it easy to pass to your substitute.
Write lesson plans for the 1st week of school.
The first week of a new school year is always stressful. Helping children build relationships with their peers and with you will impact how they participate in your classroom. Building community connections will benefit their behavior, help them develop social skills, and ultimately influence their academic performance.
You can reduce the first week’s workload by preparing get to know you games/activities and set lesson plans/materials in advance. Waterford.org gives ideas for 50 Back to School Activities for Elementary Students. The site ‘We Are Teachers’ has High School & Middle School Icebreakers to put building a classroom community in the hands of secondary school students.
Develop a physical/mental health plan.
If you do not feel good physically and mentally, you will not be at your best. If you feel good, each new day is an energetic teaching adventure. Develop and follow a health plan that meets your school year time requirements.
Mental health is often influenced by physical well-being. Good physical health is built on a three-legged stool:
If one of the legs is short, you will not be on top of your teaching game. Understand your mental health needs, too, and make plans to feel happy. Practicing mindfulness meditation a few moments a day can make a world of difference in how you view your life and interact in your classroom.
Rest. Relax. Rejuvenate. Give yourself the time to savor summer. A good summer rest will have you itching to get back in the classroom.
Before you know it, school will be starting up again. Regardless if you teach elementary school, middle school, or high school, spending a little time this summer prepping pacing guides, a few lesson plans, and exploring classroom management techniques will make your life and classroom so much sweeter.
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Article by Miss Jae
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Bridgers, Gretchen Schultek. “10 Ways to Prepare for the Upcoming School Year During the Summer.” Always a Lesson. 2019. https://alwaysalesson.com/10-ways-to-prepare-for-the-upcoming-school-year-during-the-summer/
Watson, Angela. “8 Things You Can Do This Summer to Make Back-to-School Less Stressful.” Angela Watson. 2017. https://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/summer/
Aguliar, Elena. “How to Focus Lessons and Learning Goals.” Edutopia. 2009. https://www.edutopia.org/focus-student-learning-power-standards