Many publications offer advice on back-to-school regimens for students. However, very few articles focus on ways to navigate this time frame as a teacher, even though they experience far more anxiety and anticipation during this time as they are in charge of course preparation, as well as classroom setup, for the remainder of the school year. Luckily, the digital world has given us access to helpful guides and materials to aid us in pursuing our goals.
"Before each school year begins, I like to already have a place in mind for small group work areas, reading areas, center work areas, or even the classroom library."
- 3 Tips to Get Ready
So to help you deal with the hurdles of back-to-school and learn something new to make your life easier, we've compiled 7 of our favorite tips. You'll learn how to proactively set yourself for school year success!
1. Class Webpage
Unless your school already has a learning management system (LMS) in place, it is always a good idea to create a class webpage where you can post contact information, homework assignments, tutorials, classroom schedule, etc. Your webpage will act as your students' 'cheat sheet' for your classroom - anything they need to know, they can refer back to it. Some schools have IT teams for this, however, if this is not the case for you, don't panic!
Here's a simple tutorial video created by Pioneer Resa Tech that should prove very useful: How to Create a Basic Teacher Webstie Using Google Sites
2. Communication System with Parents
Establishing rapport with parents is key to a successful teaching career. This will allow for less surprises at the end of the semester, as parents would be able to track and accommodate. By doing this, you won't have to deal with disgruntled parents complaining that their kid isn't doing well in your class. No matter what, it is important to note that if school is a business, parents are the clients, so you must treat them accordingly.
Drawing a blank on where to start? We suggest taking a look at 7 Free Apps for Keeping Parents and Teachers Connected
3. Back-to-School Student Welcome Letter
A student welcome letter creates the perfect opportunity to introduce oneself and make a good first impression; it says you care enough about your students (and their parents) to go the extra mile. The letter's purpose is to welcome students and give parents a preview of the material their kids will be learning from you. This is the first contact you will have with your students and their households. When writing your welcome letter, make sure to include:
- Personal Info
- Contact Info
- Classroom Behavior Plan
- Description of Classroom Environment
- Homework Policy
- Classroom Supply List
- Brief statement of Teaching Philosophy
4. Classroom Setup
As a teacher, it is important to have your classroom accommodate your teaching style(and not the other way around!) Desks can be positioned in a multitude of arrangments, such as: traditional rows, cooperative clusters, or a horseshoe shape. Next, plan to move your desk where you can strategically see everyone in the classroom. Finally, you can save some space in one of the corners for an area with reading material as well as a small comfy couch.
5. Bulletin Boards
Bulleting boards are a classroom's signature; it is imperative that your bulleting board express the values and sentiments that you wish to harbor in the classroom (this can really help with classroom management.) Here's where you can get creative. Are there any popular movies or shows that your students might like? There are hundreds of design ideas online ranging from Seasons to Star Wars. A fun and original bulletin board helps increase the moral of the students.
Here's a little something to get the ideas flowing: 53 Bulletin Board Ideas
6. First Day & Week Lesson Plans
Laughter and small talk always helps make the room feel less awkward. Make sure you have your icebreakers ready to go by the first day of class. Also, the first couple of days serve as an unofficial indicator of how the rest of the year is going to go. Make sure to bring extra lesson plans just in case; you will want to prepare for any surprises which can and often do happen in a k12 classroom.
7. Morning Work Packets
Having morning work packets set up at the entrance of the classroom doesn't just make your life easier - but the students' as well. For example, if a student walks in late to class one day, he/she will (awkwardly) grab the packets and sit down. However, without packets, that same student could disrupt the class by asking his/her neighbor for a recap of the material. Finally, even if the student is on time, it's just a good way to keep the student engaged and thinking about the topic at hand.
For more information on how to design these, visit Making Morning Work Meaningful
So to recap, you have organized your materials and course info into a webpage, you've established rapport with your students (and their parents) as well as set up your classroom and materials for success. Congratulations, you are now ready to teach again! However, this list isn't exhaustive. Some issues may arise during the school year that you are not well-equipped to deal with. If that happens, please don't hesitate to reach out to us, and we will continue doing our best to help you develop the young minds of our nation.
Ask us your questions on social media at any time!