Are you starting your teaching career this coming school year? This blog post covers the six most important things you'll need to do before you step on campus on your first day.
If you'll be starting your first year as a teacher in the fall, you're probably experiencing a combination of excitement, anxiety, and a strong desire to prepare as much as possible. Getting yourself ready for the year to come is definitely a worthwhile endeavor, and the summer is a great time to get a few key tasks out of the way. Here are our top suggestions for six things you can do over the summer to help set yourself up for success when you enter your classroom in the fall.
1. Ask for Advice
Before you start taking any concrete steps for the upcoming year, talk to as many trustworthy people as you can and ask them for advice. For example, talk to every teacher you know. If you don't know many teachers, do some online research and hit up message boards. Talk to administrators and district employees at your own and other schools.
These people can provide you with feedback about what teachers should and should not do, both the summer before their first year and throughout the rest of their careers. Listen carefully to their suggestions, and then be critical when deciding what you want to apply to your own classroom.
2. Determine Your Procedures, Rules, and Values
As a teacher, having a strong understanding of your own policies and values is, well, invaluable. First, get to know your school's official policies, including those regarding:
- Access to school email systems, phone numbers, and websites
- Attendance issues, sick days, and tardies
- Health and safety procedures
- Parent-teacher communication
- Student behavior and discipline
- Transitioning to before-school and after-school programs
- Responsible use of classroom technology and equipment
Then determine the rules, procedures, and policies you'll implement in your own classroom. Write these down, as you'll most likely want to share this information with your students, such as how you'll handle:
- Make-up work
- Late work
- Extra credit
Finally, we highly recommend that you take the time to write down your own values as a teacher. What are you going to prioritize throughout the year? What is important to you as an educator? Having this information in writing will be incredibly convenient and helpful when you, inevitably, find yourself feeling lost or overwhelmed at the start of or throughout the school year, or burnt out during your teaching career.
3. Gather Lesson Plans
In addition to lesson planning for your first few weeks of class, we recommend doing some online research and identifying your favorite lesson planning resources. You can then use these to build a library of lesson plans, activities, games, questions, and so on that you like and might want to use in your class, either directly or just for inspiration. Collecting these resources ahead of time will make future lesson planning much easier. And just knowing which online resources you trust will save time later on.
4. Mark Your Calendar
Time management and scheduling is incredibly important when starting a career as busy and multifaceted as teaching (we all know your job will extend far past the 8 am to 3 pm school day). So think about how you're going to organize yourself and which time management system will work best for you. Once you decide on an approach, be sure to note all of the important dates throughout the school year on your calendar so that you don't end up forgetting:
- The first days and last days of school
- Holidays and vacation breaks
- Teacher development days
- Important school events
5. Ready Your Classroom
One thing you might be excited about is prepping and decorating your classroom. After all, not every employee at your typical office gets an entire room to set up as he or she sees fit. And while classroom decor can be fun, don't forget to stock your room with things that you might need throughout the year, including:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
- Tea bags, lip balm, and cough drops
- Snack foods and other items you can use for last-minute lunches
- Cash for the cafeteria vending machine
- Extra clothing in case of stains or wardrobe malfunctions
You'll be happy you have these items if you ever end up needing them!
6. Familiarize Yourself with School Staff
Closer to the start of the school year, you'll want to get to know your school's staff and layout. Try to meet everybody who works on campus, including:
- Other teachers
- Front desk workers
- Food service staff
Familiarizing yourself with these people will help you integrate into the school community and set you up for success in case you need a favor.
You'll also want to tour the school and get to know where everything is, including:
- Administrative offices
- Bus stops, parking lots, and pick-up spots
- Faculty rooms and mailboxes
- School auditorium, computer lab, gym, library, and other special rooms
- Copy machines
- Supply closets
Locating key school areas now will save you time in the future.
Finally, we recommend familiarizing yourself with your class roll as soon as you get it. Read through the names and practice pronouncing them to avoid those awkward verbal stumbles that everybody experiences on the first day. These are going to be your first-ever students! Are you excited yet?
For resources you can use in your physical or virtual classroom, check out Study.com's Teacher Edition.