By Lani deGuia, Guest Blogger and Curriki Member
Summer is in full bloom and you probably have finally settled into “wind down” mode. Some teachers are determined not to think about the next school year until they set foot through the school’s doors. Others might find it advantageous to take a few moments of their summer to gradually plan.
Here is a checklist if you fall into the latter category of educators. It could save you from anxiety and afford you time to focus on how you want to deliver the best school year for your students. We’ve drafted a countdown list of “to-do’s” to help prepare effectively and painlessly!
One Month Before: Take Inventory of What You Need
Planning a month in advance can save you money. Take 10 minutes to go through the bins from your classroom that may be sitting in your garage or the trunk of your car and see what you have left. Then take 5 minutes to jot down a list of supplies that you need to replenish and those that would be on your “wish list” for the year. You can then make a plan to catch deals through:
- School supply and back-to-school sales
- Sales tax holiday weekends – Many states have them in the summertime.
- Yard sales (online and face-to-face) – Many people move in the summer. Don’t miss out on a steal on that extra bookcase you need for your classroom or the alternative chairs for your flexible seating strategy!
- Get items for free – Ask friends and family if they have items to spare. Also, many cities have Freecycle groups where individuals post items to be given for free or post items they are looking for
Three Weeks Before: Set Goals for Improvement and Plan
Set a timer for 5 minutes and write everything about your instructional practices and management that frustrated and challenged you the previous school year. You may have already set goals for the upcoming school year in the spring. Now is the time to refer to them or zero in on a few manageable goals. This is a good time to research a new strategy you’ve been wanting to implement to transform your classroom.
Perhaps some of these topics have been on your wish list:
- Do you want to better support students through social-emotional learning? Check out strategies for implementing SEL into Common Core. Use this SEL planning chart when you are creating new units and lessons.
- Need to change your approach to discipline? Start with these articles on restorative justice and brainstorm on how you can revise your current classroom policies and actions.
- Wanting to try out flipped classroom strategies? Check out these tools and start planning on what units it will work with throughout the year!
- Have you been wanting to use flexible seating in your classroom? See pictures of what it looks like in action!
Two Weeks Before: Tackle the Nuts and Bolts
Typically, the first week back at school before the students return is full of meetings, professional development, team collaborative sessions, and more. It is common to discover that you have limited time to flesh out the critical elements of getting the school year off to a great start. Use this week to write, revise, and improve items such as the following:
- First week of school lesson plans (or first few weeks or month of lesson plans if you prefer) – Don’t forget to include icebreakers to build community such as this one on collaboration
- Classroom expectations and orientation materials
- Classroom management set up
- Parent communication and welcome letter/packet
- Open House ideas and materials
- Plan for the learning environment (seating, bulletin boards, stations, etc.)
One Week Before: Set Up House
This week is all about action! Now that you have already completed a lot of the planning and strategizing, it’s time to get hands on. Use the week before school to:
- Attend professional training and meetings
- Finalize items from the Two Weeks checklist that haven’t been finished
- Set up your classroom and learning environment
- Set up for teacher organization (grade book, rosters, organizational records and binders, technology devices and management, etc.)
- Help others—don’t forget to lend a hand to colleagues, especially new and first-time teachers!
Before you know it, the first day of school will be here. How do you like to plan or prepare for the first day of school? Share your ideas!
Lani deGuia is a Norfolk, VA-based Educational Consultant with experience writing and developing curriculum and managing school technology. Learn more at Curriki.org.
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