Back to School: Be Prepared!

Like it or not, school starts in just a few weeks. Turning the calendar over to August sends a mixed wave of emotions through most teachers.

Disbelief: How can summer be over already?!

Relief: I can’t wait to get back to a normal routine!

Guilt: I wish I had worked on my curriculum like I said I would last May.

Excitement: I can’t wait to meet my new students!

Apprehension: I hope this class isn’t as bad as I heard from last year’s teachers.

Motivation: What can I do differently so this is my best year ever?

Prepare Yourself

Don’t beat yourself up for not opening that book bag all summer. If you are like me, you need the first two months of summer to relax and you deserve it! Besides, teachers work best under pressure!

If you got in the habit of sleeping in, set your alarm one hour earlier each week until the big day.  Use that time to go through your book bag and tweak that curriculum.  You actually won’t lose any of your precious time since you are waking earlier.

I attended a New Teacher Academy as a mentor teacher this week and was inspired by some of the ideas I had forgotten over the past 16 years. Sometimes as veteran teachers, we get stuck in a rut, sticking with the things we have always done.   If you are in need of new ideas, helpful resources, fresh perspective, or just want a little motivation, check out Back to School Resources for Teachers. In addition to templates, forms, and articles, there are many tutorials for Windows, Mac, SMARTBoards, and Web 2.0.  The list of FREE educational apps for the iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad is definitely worth checking out.

Prepare Your Students

Introduce yourself to students before school even starts. Consider sending a customized postcard with a picture of your classroom and a “See You Soon!” or  “Wish You Were Here” message. Depending on your district’s policy and school website, provide a link to a class webpage so they can get a sneak peek before the first day.

Prepare the Parents

Remember that postcard I mentioned? You could include a few appropriate links from Back to School Resources for Parents, which provides links to articles for each milestone (entering kindergarten, elementary, middle school, high school, and even dealing with a being a new student in a new district).

Prepare for the First Day

Keep in mind that your students have spent the entire summer staying up late, sleeping in, moving at their own pace, and probably spending a good deal of time with technology. For many, coming back to school means “listening up” and “powering down.” Sometimes the first day of school is nothing more than checking names, assigning lockers, passing out books, and spouting off rules and expectations.  If you ask your students, I bet many will say the first day of school is boring!

Instead of the traditional standing-at-the-front-of-the-room first day speech, use your SMARTBoard to create an interactive seating chart or a game to reveal information about yourself and your classroom. Try to integrate a current pop song from your iPod or include a YouTube video as part of your welcome back activities. Make it your goal to catch your students’ attention and establish a connection that will carry you through the rest of the year. Be the one class day that sticks in their mind when they get home that night. Be the one class they can’t wait to come back to tomorrow.

By Melanie Krause, Dover Education Association

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