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Annnnd We’re Back!

 

Wait.... What happened to summer? I’m not ready!

Well, it’s that time again! Welcome back! We certainly hope you were able to take some time to recharge this summer between side jobs, curriculum revision, and all the “life catch-up” you do during the summer season. For a lot of us, the transition back to the school-time routine can be a shock to the system. But there are things you can do to make it easier. Today, Education World is here with some solid “tried and true” tips to help you take the plunge back into the classroom.

 

Practice Morning

Parents of young children and natural early risers, you can skip this one. For the rest of us, summer is the one time we allow ourselves to get the elusive “good night’s sleep”. And we’ve been there: There’s a part of you that wants to squeeze out every last drop of “sleep in” you can before the fall. Don’t do it! At least a week before the first day of school, you should start setting the alarm a bit earlier. You don’t have to go crazy. Just set it a little earlier each day, to ease yourself into the habit of alarm, yawn, shower, coffee, breakfast, dressed, and go. No one wants to be groggy on the first day of school, and you’ll thank yourself when the big day arrives.

 

Stay Busy in August

We know you have a lot of prep to tackle before the beginning of the school year, and August starts to feel hectic. At the same time, you might be tempted to get it all done in June and July, so you can relax up until the moment that first bell rings. Here’s the problem: if you stay in a holiday mindset throughout August, September is going to feel like a bucket of ice cold water in the face. You don’t need to end your vacation early, but make sure you stay busy in this last month. Have a schedule. Visit friends, tackle chores, work on a hobby, schedule some fun, but keep engaged. The pace of those last few weeks should match the pace of the coming year, even if it is filled with leisure!

 

... But Do Pace Yourself

Having said that, don’t go overboard. Yes, being a teacher is all about being overplanned. Contingency A, contingency B, contingency C. At the same time, don’t forget that the school year is based on the needs of your students, and you have not yet met your students. Once you have your curriculum set, know that it is going to change. You can’t plan for every variable. At some point, you just need to get the students in your classroom and see how it’s going to go. Plan to keep the first few weekends of school free to re-orient and adjust.

 

Know Your Rules!

When you are planning in those last few weeks, do make sure to spend some time organizing your classroom practices. If you’re a new teacher, talk to your new co-workers. If you’re a veteran, think about last year. How did your classroom policies go? Your cell phone policy? Bathroom? Transitions? How were the general noise levels? Homework returns? Was it manageable for the students? Was it manageable for you? Have a plan to make sure your students are extremely clear about what your expectations are from day one. Doing that work at the outset can really save you some headaches in the future. Don’t just plan a “rules list.” Think about how you are going to create buy-in.

 

Getting to Know You?

While you’re at it, really think about how you might be able to get to know the students in your class this year. The “don’t let them see you smile until December” pedagogy is outdated and bad practice. Modern education is about rapport and relationships. This is more than icebreakers and a quick “whip-around.” Think about how you can give your students an early opportunity to share their story. Think of a clever way you can tell your own story. How can you get your students to start engaging with each other at a much deeper level this year?

 

Celebrate the Summer!

Lastly, no matter how you spent the summer, be sure to celebrate its closing. Why? You’re about to embark on another year of teaching. Fantastic things are about to happen, and you deserve a moment to remember why you do what you do. For some, that might entail a picnic feast or a Netflix festival. For others, it might be takeout or catching a live game. No matter how you make merry, a ritual celebration can help bridge the cognitive dissonance between summer and fall. It’s going to be hard work, but there’s a real reason why they call it the hardest job you’ll ever love.

Rock it out this year! And remember: We're here for you.

 

Written by Keith Lambert, Education World Associate Contributing Editor

Lambert is an English / Language Arts teacher in Connecticut.