Fall is coming. What can you do to stay refreshed and ready?
I know you don’t want to hear this, teacher friends, but summer is almost over. Have you noticed the fun donut-shaped floaties have been replaced with school supplies at Target?
I’m not saying it’s time to abandon the pool or put down your beach read, but here are some things I like to do as the school year starts to wind up and get going.
1. Create a cursory pacing guide for each prep.
If you’re new to your school or maybe you’re teaching a different course from the past it’s time to reach out to your PLC and get some answers to important questions. What are the anchor texts for each unit? What skills are you going to be teaching in each unit? And in what ways are you given the freedom to do what you want in your classroom? Knowing the answers to these questions, regardless of whether you’ve been teaching a class for twenty years or if this is your first year, will help you create that pacing guide.
Want something more detailed that you can give to your students? Here’s a link to my free daily agenda.
2. Make a list of what you need for your classroom.
I’m not talking about things you’re going to need in December, friends. I’m talking about what you’ll need to survive that first week or two. A few years ago, I started teaching in a school district that required that all English students follow Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle’s Writer’s Notebook strategy from 180 Days: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents. This meant teachers used part of their supply stipend to purchase over 150 composition notebooks. Having a list of the other materials I would need like notecards for my “ Reflect and Share” Activity was also necessary, not to mention wanting to update my classroom library and so on. Having a list helps me stay on track and not get overwhelmed during that opening week when you’re scrambling to get your classroom together and attending required PD, while also watching all those safety videos and setting up the digital end of your classroom. Are we stressed yet?
3. Read two books: one for pleasure and one for teaching
I love reading for pleasure and summer is the best time of year to knock out reading those books that everyone is talking about during the school year when I’m grading papers and not getting enough sleep. It’s also a great time to read that new novel you’ve been itching to teach or some PD. Because I’m an English teacher, I usually read at least one or two novels I’m going to make a unit for and one book for PD.
4. Order a few new lewks for work
Maybe it’s the forever-student in me but getting school clothes was always a highlight of summer coming to an end when I was a student. That excitement never went away when I became a teacher. When the school year starts, it’s similar to the way January does with new year’s resolutions. I optimistically think about how “this is the year…” I’ll wear cute shoes to work and maybe consistently wear lipstick (the lipstick was definitely a pre-COVID goal). Since you definitely won’t have time to run out and thoughtfully pick out some new outfits to start the school year and set the tone (anyone else wear heels the first week to establish you’re a badass bitch then revert to your ballet flats in week two after the students are scared of you?), get them now as the new fall trends are being put out in stores.
5. Make a list of your professional goals for the year
I write my goals every day. Does it do anything? I don’t know, but I like that it keeps my goals at the forefront of my mind. While you don’t need to do this daily, consider writing your professional goals while you’re still refreshed from those watermelon gin-fizzes. Don’t wait until the end of the day the Friday before school starts, you’re worn down from PD, tired af, and feeling like if Mary doesn’t stop hogging the copier with her 25-page syllabus you’re going to burn the place down. Do it now, while you’re still optimistic and can be objective. Feeling fancy? Make a wallpaper for your work computer on Canva so you can see your goals all the time.
What are some ways you like to start getting ready for the school year?
Did you know I have a newsletter? It comes into your inbox once a week. Sign up here!