Tips For Planning Ahead To A New School Year
It may seem crazy for some teachers to be talking about preparing for the new school year so soon, but for other teachers, your summer break is already half over. If you are anything like me, your mind is already thinking about how the new year might look, what you want to do in your classroom to make it fresh for your students and yourself, and what resources and materials you might want to start gathering. You may even be thinking about ways you will build classroom community and set up the rules and routines.
Here are 6 tips and ideas that can help you prepare for a successful year.
1. Give your classroom a fresh look
Changing up your classroom arrangement and giving it a fresh look can help you to feel refreshed and ready to begin a new year.
In our district, we get our former students for the first week of school as the numbers are tallied and the classes are formed. Even though we try to organize things before school ends for the year, there are always changes in the fall. New students come, some students move away, some go to online instruction, etc. These all affect the numbers and how they are distributed throughout the grades.
Once the classes are organized, kids are moved into their new classrooms. Usually, some remain because of all the split grades. Changing up the room and giving them special roles help them to feel like they are important and not missing out.
Do you change up how the room looks or add a new decor to your room?
If you are looking at adding some color to your room, you might want to check out my rainbow set. It has many different elements in it to make your classroom look cheerful and ready for a new year. I have created an English and a French version so that it will work in French Immersion or core French classrooms as well.
2. Use ice breakers to build classroom community
Building a classroom community will help with gaining trust and respect in the group. This is an important part of creating a caring and successful learning climate for the students. There are many different ways to build community. We will look more at this another time, but for now, here are a couple of ice breaker type ideas that might help with getting started.
Getting to know each other is an important part of developing class community, so I like to do many different group activities and partner games to mix up the kids and help them to learn to work together with others. Here are a couple of the activities I have used in the past along with a twist to make it a bit different.
Find Someone Who
Find Someone Who is a well-known icebreaker that is used in various forms. This is my newest version. It is more extensive and can be used for getting to know classmates better. There are interview questions for the 5W and there is also a game component where teams can work together to guess who the person interviewed was. Check it out by clicking the image.
If you would prefer a simplified version that is a fast icebreaker, I have made another version that just asks a couple of questions. Click the image to get your free copy.
Choose a topic and have the one circle share with the person they are facing. Then switch roles. This is a great way to learn information about several others as you can continue to have one circle move so that the partners keep changing. You can ask the same question multiple times or you can change up the questions to find out more information. Choose questions that will guide the conversations to learning more about the class members.
Here is a great way to combine getting to know each other and math. Each glyph has different information on it depending on the likes and interests of the person creating it. After the glyphs are completed, many different questions can be asked for analyzing the data.
3. Have some classroom management strategies planned
Classroom management is an important part of teaching. There needs to be some sort of classroom routine, structure, or rules that are agreed upon in order for good learning to happen. These can be given, mutually developed, or a combination of the two, but they should be established during the first few days so that they can be practiced and followed as soon as possible.
I found that using a t-chart for creating some of these routines worked well. Here are some that I used.
Classroom rules and manners posters can also help to remind the kids of expectations. Here are some that I created for the primary classroom. There are a couple of different patterns available as well as a black and white version if you prefer.
4. Have some quick and easy activities ready
There are often times during the first few days when you are trying to adjust to getting back into the school routine that you may be scrambling to fill in a few minutes here and there. If you have some quick and easy activities or brain break games ready, you can just grab one of them to use. This will also help to avoid confusion, management situations, and it will help to keep the kids engaged.
5. Remember to have some fun
The temptation may be to get started on academics right away, but remember that both you and the kids need to get back into a routine. It is important to make sure that you keep the fun in the activities and interject the academics in a way that isn't too intense as you do review or introduce new topics. Taking some time at the beginning to review and engage with your students will pay off later on.
6. Make sure to take care of yourself
This is actually one of the most important tips I want to share with you. If you want to be able to get through the next year without burnout and stress, it is important to focus on self care.
Every year we seem to forget how tiring it is to start a new school year. Teacher tired the first few weeks of school is real. Make sure that you are getting lots of rest. Take some time for you. Don't just focus on your job. Even if it is only a few minutes a day, do something for you that will help you to de-stress and relax.
These are just a few ideas to think about as you leave school for your summer break or as you continue to enjoy your summer holiday.
Next week I will talk more about back to school ideas and setting your year up for success. Until then, continue to enjoy your summer break. You deserve it.
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About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.