By Teachers, For Teachers
Even though you may be busy getting your paperwork in order for the end of the school year, it’s never too early to get a jumpstart on going back to school in the fall. Instead of spending your summer break in front of a computer searching for new lesson ideas, take some time now before the school year is even over to get some of the important things for next year out of the way. This doesn’t have to take a lot of time, all you need to do is to set aside a few hours over the next few weeks to think about, and gather some supplies. Here are a few suggestions to help you prepare to go back to school.
The first thing that you want to do to prepare to go back to school is make a plan. If you’ve already gotten feedback from your current students about how the school year went (your teaching methods, lessons, etc.), then utilize this information to help you make any changes that you see fit. Next, speak to your colleagues and ask them what they do in their classroom that works well. Write down ideas on classroom management, homework routines, classroom rules and procedures, time management, organization techniques, classroom jobs, and whatever else that is of interest to you.
The next thing that you should do is to create a preliminary yearlong outline of what you plan on doing next year. To help you get started, look at the research that you gathered, and think about everything that went well during the current school year. Then write down all of the things that you would like to get accomplished in the next school year. Next, break your outline into sections and transfer the things that you’d like to do in the months that you’d like to them in. This outline of what you would like to do month-to-month will serve as your roadmap when the next school year arrives. It’s a great start to getting ready for the next school year, and it will give you some sort of direction to follow, instead of doing the same thing that you do every year.
The first week of school is usually pretty hectic. Instead of waiting until the week before school starts to prepare your icebreaker activities, plan them now. If you know that the one getting-to-know-you activity that you did in the beginning of this year didn’t work out as well as you had hoped, then plan for a few different ones. Talk to your colleagues and ask them what activities worked well for them. Then, create enough icebreaker activities for a full week. You can also use the ones you planned from this year, but only use the ones that you think really benefitted students. You may think that different activities will work with different groups of students, but that’s highly unlikely. If it didn’t work for this year’s students, chances are it’s not going to for next year’s students, either. By creating everything for back to school week now, you’ll reduce a lot of that first-week stress teachers get.
If you’re a planner (which most of you are, if you’re reading about preparing things early), then you know that having a substitute packet is essential for those unexpected sick days. The reason why you should plan this packet so early is because you don’t know what’s going to happen over summer break. What if you break your hand or get an illness, or what if something else unexpectedly comes up and you are unable to plan during the summer? You really have no idea what can happen between now and the next school year, so planning now is your best bet for having everything you need in place for next year. Create a substitute bin and fill it with extra worksheets, classroom activities, and games to keep students busy. Add the student handbook, school rules, and procedures and emergency drills. Get everything together so you’ll be stress-free when it comes to the fall.
If you like the idea of sitting by the beach or the pool and writing down your school supply list for next school year, that is not a good idea. Here’s why: When you are outside of the classroom, you’ll have a harder time thinking of what you need than when you are physically in the classroom and you can see what you’ll need. Take a few minutes to look around the classroom and make a supply list now, you’ll be glad you did when it comes to back to school time.
Get ahead of the game now, so you can spend your summer months relaxing or spending time with your family. All of the tips mentioned above will not take too much time. You’ll be grateful you planned early come the fall.
Do you prepare for the next school year before the end of the current school year, or do you think that’s crazy?
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 a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the elementary education expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.