By Teachers, For Teachers
With school coming to an end you probably have a million things to check off of your end-of-year checklist. But you’re a teacher, and that means that you most likely have a little voice inside of your head telling you to prepare for back to school time and the next school year. While this may seem overwhelming, and a bit crazy to add on about ten more things to your list, it can also save you a lot of time (and not to mention stress) in the fall. So, what can you do now to get ready for back to school? Well, it really depends on the grade you teach, but here is a general list of the top ten things you can do now before you leave your classroom for the summer.
Most of you probably make this list in the summertime while you are lounging poolside or relaxing on a beach somewhere. But, while that may seem like the ideal place to create your school supply list, in all actuality the classroom is much better. When you’re physically in the room, you can see what you need and what you don’t need. Make a list of things your students will need, as well as what you will need.
After you have made your list, then you can put an order in to the main office of your school. Every school district does this different, some schools ask parents to purchase a certain amount of school supplies for their children then they provide the rest. Others ask teachers to place an order of what they need and accept any donations from parents. So if your school allows you to place an order for new workbooks, textbooks, paper supplies, or whatever else you need, now is the time to do it.
The custodial team will be making a clean sweep of your classroom, but luckily most janitors leave the walls alone. This means that when you take down your old bulletin boards for spring cleaning (and wash the walls) you can put up new ones for the following year. Simple colorful backdrops will make it easy for you to place student artwork on come the fall. A birthday bulletin board or a homework wall is another easy bulletin board to tackle for the next school year.
The first week back to school is extremely hectic. Instead of waiting until the week before school to think of what icebreaker activities you are going to plan, do it now. Create enough activities (or use the ones you planned from this year) for a full week. This will help reduce a lot of that first week stress teachers get at back to school time.
Once you figure out what you are going to be doing the first week back to school, now it’s time to make all of the photocopies for the activities and lessons you have planned. After you have made the copies make sure that you organize them into folders or file them away into the appropriate spot. This will help you to stay organized, and will be easier for you to find when you enter your classroom next school year.
The first week of school is filled with a lot of paperwork. To help ease some of that paperwork overload get all of the forms ready now and make any edits that you need to. This way when you are getting your classroom ready at the end of the summer you will have one less thing to do.
Back to school night or as some schools call it “open house” is a time when parents get to come to the classroom and learn about what their students will be doing for the new school year. While you don’t have to prepare for the whole night, you can start now by preparing the handouts right now. Add these handouts to your “make copies” list and you will be so happy you have one less thing to do for that hectic night.
Take a few moments to reflect upon your year and what worked and what didn’t work. Really think about what you want to accomplish in the next school year. Jot down a preliminary outline of what you plan on doing month-to-month. This will serve as your outline that you can look at in the fall, and it will give you some sort of direction that you can follow.
To make sure that you are prepared for an unexpected sick day, you can prepare your substitute packet now. It’s best to plan for this before you leave for summer vacation because you have no idea what can happen between now and the next school year. Create a substitute bin and fill it with extra worksheets, activities, and games to keep students busy.
Talk to your colleagues and ask them what they do in their classroom that works for them. Fill up a notebook of ideas on classroom management, homework routines, class rules and procedures, time management, student organization, classroom jobs, and whatever else that interests you. Then, over the summer (while sitting on the beach) you can browse through your notebook and decide upon the things that you would like to incorporate into your daily routine.
It’s great to get a jumpstart on the following school year so you don’t have to spend the summer thinking about work. Take your summer vacation and spend it on yourself, relaxing and unwinding from the school year.
How do you prepare for the next school year? Do you wait until the fall or get a jumpstart before summer break? Share with us in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.