By Teachers, For Teachers
Summertime for teachers is about relaxing, having fun in the sun, spending time with your friends and family, and getting that much-needed rest to help you recharge for back to school time. Summer is also a time that many teachers like to use to help them prepare for the back to school time. While it’s not wise to spend all of your summer months preparing your classroom, there are a few things that you can do in your spare time now that will help you feel less anxious in the fall.
A great starting point to help you ease into thinking about the upcoming school year is to create a preliminary yearly outline of what you’d like to accomplish. Take some time to reflect upon the past year and what worked for you and your students, and what didn’t. Then think about what you want to accomplish next year. Create a preliminary outline of what you plan on doing month-to-month. This will serve as your roadmap that you can look at in the fall, and it will give you some sort of direction that you can follow.
One of the great things about social media is that you can gain knowledge on topics of interest from anywhere in the world. If you’re sitting on the beach, you can browse through your newsfeed and learn about new classroom management techniques or learn about the latest educational technologies. While you’re relaxing this summer, take some time to browse through your social media platforms. This is a great way to help you decide on the things that you would like to incorporate into your daily routine this upcoming school year.
Think about this past year and the supplies that you used the most. What do you need more of? What do you need less of? What could your classroom use that your school district doesn’t supply? If there is a piece of technology that you really would like to have, but your school just doesn’t have the budget for, now is the time to create a wish list on Donorschoose.org and ask for it. There’s a community of donors that are eager to fund your classroom wishes, all you have to do is ask.
Instead of waiting until the week before school starts to prepare your getting-to-know-you activities, plan them now. Create enough activities for the entire week, not just for the first day. Breaking the ice with new students takes time, and the best way for students to really get to know you, as well as their classmates, is to plan for daily activities that will help them bond. Try playing the name game, where students stand in a circle and say their name along with a gesture. The gesture can be anything from a wave to a simple handclap. The key to this ice breaker activity is for the whole class to say the name of the student and do the gesture right after each students’ turn. It may seem like a silly game to older students, but the gestures help students remember their classmate’s names faster.
If your school has a “Back to School” night or a “Meet and Greet” night when parents get to come to the classroom and learn about what their students will be doing for the upcoming school year, then you can start planning for it this summer. While you don’t have to prepare for the whole night just yet, you can start now by thinking of a theme or by preparing the parent handouts. This will give you a head start on parent night and make it easier on you when it’s back to school time.
The summertime is the perfect time to prepare for the unexpected. To make sure that you are prepared for an unexpected sick day, you can prepare a substitute materials packet now. You can even create a substitute bin, or as some teachers like to call them, a “Sub tub” that is simply a container filled with extra worksheets, activities, and games to keep students busy while you’re not in the classroom. Then once you actually get into the classroom in the fall, you can add your class roster, fire escape route and plan, school code of conduct, or anything else that you think is necessary for the substitute teacher.
It’s a good idea to get a jumpstart on the following school year, but make sure that you’re not spending your entire summer preparing. Use your summer vacation to relax, unwind, and spend time doing the things that you love.
Do you take any time to prepare for the upcoming school year during your summer break? Please share your back to school ideas with us in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
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 Masters 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.