Preparing for the new school year as a teacher is completely different than preparing for the new school year as a student. The responsibilities of teachers are much higher than the responsibilities of students.
Students have to buy supplies for all their classes, finish their summer reading, and worry about what is coming up this new year.
On the other hand, teachers are responsible for creating class content, preparing a timeline of assignments, building a class curriculum, organizing their teaching and grading time, and so on.
Nonetheless, getting ready for school can be stressful both for students and teachers, which is why we've created this guide to help teachers get started with the new year.
Continue reading and see what steps you should take as a teacher to start the year. We will tell you about the importance of getting to know your new students, how to take time to organize lessons, some great ways to innovate last year's activities, and we'll give you some tips on how to manage the stress of starting school again after summer vacations.
Keep in mind that as a teacher you are responsible to create class content and activities but you are usually obligated to stay within the subjects and themes provided by the school board. So, you have the freedom to build your curriculum only to a certain extent.
Starting a new school year can be overwhelming, which is why we created a guide to help students prepare for a new school year.
Learning about your new students
The first thing you need to pay attention to once the new year has started is your new students.
You got an entirely new group of people who you will be teaching and who will need you as their teacher. Getting to know the new students is one of the most important aspects of your work, and it is also the most urgent one too.
Learning your students' names and getting to know them is an urgent job. Kids notice teachers that care more than others and learning their names right away is one way of showing them you care.
Some educators take months to learn all their students' names, others continue to confuse them even six months after the school year started. And sometimes, learning all the names can be challenging, but don't be that type of teacher!
Besides learning their names, there are many other ways you can get to know your students. You need to learn about their skills, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, understand their level of preparation, and so on.
Keep in mind that it will take you some time to learn all these things, but there are always some strategies you can follow in the classroom to learn things much faster.
You can have the kids participate in different group projects and see what strategies they use, how social they are, what student is the leader in each group, and so on. You must identify these skills at the beginning of the year because it will help you divide them or sit them around the classroom the rest of the year.
There are plenty of online programs that you can sign up for, to understand how exactly you can get to know your students. You can find resources, tips, answers to your questions, the best strategies, and more.
Take time for planning
One of the perks of being a teacher is that you get to enjoy summer vacations. However, your vacations aren't as long as they are for the students because you need to use some of the time you have to plan the next year.
It's not like you can organize an activity the day before class. If someday, eventually, turns out the thing you planned won't work, then you have no other choice but to come up with something new the day before.
Nonetheless, you can't do that for the entire school year. This is why you should use your time during summer to plan in-class assignments, homework you'll send, exams, pop quizzes for emergencies, essays, projects, presentations, and so on.
Taking some time during your vacations to plan the content of your classes can save you a lot of time in the future. Many educators tend to organize their lessons at night, however, there will come a time during the year when you'll use your free nights to grade papers, tests, homework, or classwork.
You'll be thankful you planned because that is one less thing off of your to-do list.
Don't forget that July and August are your vacations too. We are not saying you should spend both months working hard and sorting every single detail out. Besides, you'll see that there are some things you can't plan for because education and students can sometimes be unpredictable.
But we do believe that if you get some of the planning off your plate your future self will be thankful!
Another thing you can do is reach out to the teacher that had your students before you and ask them for some tips and pointers. You can ask them for a meeting or invite them to coffee and ask all the questions you might have. This can help you with the preparation of class exercises.
Think of new activities or projects
Another thing you can do to prepare for the new school year is looking at all the projects, assignments, and presentations you had your students do last year and see if you can consider changing or updating something.
For example, let's say you teach science and you discovered a new and more entertaining way of teaching kids about the solar system and the universe. Or, if some discovery debunks what you were teaching previously, then you must update the content of your class.
As a teacher, you must stay informed because the information that we teach students is constantly changing.
You should also try to innovate as much as possible, especially since you might have students who know someone in the previous grade and they might share some of their old work with younger students. It's best if teachers find ways to avoid students having an opportunity to copy someone older's work, project, or presentation.
However, we are not saying that you should change everything every year. You should change one or two projects or you can change little details of every project, exam, or assignment.
There are some things you won't be able to change. For instance, there's not much you can do if your students have to write a book report about a book that everyone has to read because it is part of the curriculum. But, if you can't change the book you can change the assignment!
If the previous year you had your students analyzing the themes of the book, this year you can have them analyze the characters. Or if you gave them one prompt to write an opinion piece based on the book, you can change the prompt next year.
When it comes to assignments and projects, the key lies in being creative and innovative.
Learn about the benefits of being prepared before school starts.
Learn to manage your stress!
Going back to school can be stressful for many reasons. First, many teachers forget —over the vacations— how chaotic a classroom can get.
This will also depend on what grade you teach at, but usually, the beginning of the year can be a bit turbulent because kids are catching up, getting used to the pace of being back in class, and happy to be with friends again.
To manage this energy you must set a strategy to keep them busy but entertained, and you should also give them space to catch up in a controlled environment. This way you will be able to control them and you'll also decrease the amount of stress.
Other teachers struggle with finding a rhythm with the new students and this can be stressful too. To avoid this from happening you should think of icebreakers to start off the lessons for at least the first week. This way you will have activities that will allow you to bond and to get to know your new students.
Being a teacher can be stressful but is also incredibly rewarding, so you just have to learn to manage the stress and enjoy all the benefits.
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