Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.
Back to School
Getting back to school after summer vacation comes with all sorts of feelings for teachers. Maybe you are disappointed that vacation is ending, or maybe you are excited to get started again. Maybe you are full of goals and plans for the year, or perhaps you are worried about starting fresh with an entirely new group of students. In all likelihood, you are feeling some combination of the above, and it probably helps a little to know that whatever you are feeling, your colleagues feel it to! This lesson will help you get into the frame of mind for starting the year off right by giving you some tips for a smooth return to school.
One of the most important things you can do as you return to school is to set up your classroom well. This section gives you some tips for how to organize yourself for the new school year.
At the beginning of the year, you might be so excited that you are tempted to put out everything at once. You have so many supplies and projects to introduce your students to and so many posters to decorate your walls. Yet it is actually helpful to start with the bare minimum and add things gradually as the year progresses. Empty walls will encourage students to do their own good work to cover them, and putting out too many supplies at once can be overwhelming.
Focus on organization.
Starting the school year off on the right foot means coming up with organizational systems that will stand you in good stead for the rest of the year. Have files ready for your students' work and bins labeled for all your necessary supplies. Putting time into organization up front will save you stress later on. Determine what rules and expectations will be important to you, and think about how you will give students different opportunities to practice following your guidelines.
Put out students' names.
Especially in the elementary grades, but also in middle and high school, it is important to make sure your students enter your classroom knowing you expect them and want them there. Put students' names in as many different places as possible, whether this means labeling notebooks and folders, having name charts on the wall, or labeling coat hooks and cubbies.
Having some good plans in place can also make all the difference in starting the school year off right and making you feel on top of things.
Over-plan your first day.
Because you do not know your students yet, it is a good idea to plan a little more than you need to for your first few days of school. It is better to have too many plans than too few; you can always go back to these ideas later.
Plan in games and ice breakers.
It is important to remember that students need a chance to know you and each other. Plan at least two games or ice breakers for each of the first several days of school so that you can help build community in your class.
Figure out an assessment plan.
You will want to start learning about your students' academic abilities as soon as possible. The best way to do this is to plan how you will implement formal and informal assessments and analyze them over the first couple weeks of school.
Finally, it is important to remember that the first weeks of school can be stressful for teachers. You will want to figure out ways to take care of yourself.
Don't stay too late!
It can be tempting to camp out in the school building during the first weeks of school, because it seems like your work is never done. Set a boundary- a time you promise yourself you will leave each day. This will help you feel balanced and refreshed as you move forward.
Debrief with colleagues.
Check in with your colleagues to see how they are doing and talk about your own concerns. Every teacher feels happier knowing she is part of a caring professional community during the stressful beginning of the year.
Whether it's exercise, hobbies, or time with friends, whatever you usually do to manage stress should not stop with the beginning of the school year. Making time for yourself will help you be a more present and relaxed teacher with your students.
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