Starting a new school year can be nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time. When looking at how to start the new school year on a positive note, teachers may need to take a step back. There are a few things you can do before the school year starts that will make it easier to start off the year in the right frame of mind and reduce the stress.
When looking at how to start the new school year on a positive note, you want to look at planning ahead. Before the school year starts, review your grade level standards and make sure that you have unpacked them to create objectives and purpose statements. Then create your common formative assessments, unit plans, and a course overview for the entire year up front. Be sure to also take some time out to familiarize yourself with the current curriculum resources mandated by the district. This will help you when planning daily lessons.
You can also look at what resources will be needed for each study unit so that you can arrange for these ahead of time. One resource will not provide everything needed so it is important to identify what areas in which you will need additional, outside resources. Decide on ways to present the work to keep it interesting and keep the students engaged. Take a look at your classroom and set up your desk and your personal space as well as organize your classroom to suit your requirements. Check to be sure the equipment is all working and perhaps place some welcome back notes to your bulletin board.
Create a Great Learning Space
Look at a way to demonstrate your class routines, procedures and rules so that they are clear and easy to understand. Look for activities and exercises you can do with the learners to make them feel that they are part of the learning process and that the classroom is a safe and happy space for them.
Go through your roster and familiarize yourself with the names of the students. It may be a good idea to find out how to pronounce complicated names before the start of the year. Plan your lessons for the first day and ensure it is more than enough to keep the students busy for the whole time they are in your class. Be sure to plan plenty of time to teach expectations, rules, and routines while also learning to get to know your students’ interests and hobbies. This will help you feel more comfortable and ready to cope on the first day back.
Calm the Nerves
Pack your bag the day before so you are ready to go the next day. You can even plan your outfit so there is one less thing to worry about. Get up early so your morning is not rushed. Go in early, spend some time chatting with colleagues before the start of classes to gain some support.
Welcome the students at the door and ensure that you have already allocated seats in an order that makes sense to you. Act confident and you will feel more confident. Smile often, try and keep things calm and help your students relax on their first day back as well. Make it your goal to learn all of your students’ names by the end of the day if you are an elementary teacher and by the end of the first week if you are a secondary teacher so that you can then begin to greet them by name daily.
You need to be in control without being too overbearing or intimidating. Perhaps take some time out to allow each child to introduce themselves to you and the class, which will help them feel more a part of the group and let you learn a bit about them as well.
Orient Your Students
Your first lesson plan should include ways of assessing your students and their skills as well as what they already know and what you will need to focus on for each student. Pre-assessments that mirror post-assessments are one way of gaining information to allow you differentiate during the unit. Additionally, benchmark assessments allow you to gain a baseline of broad skills and knowledge that you can compare to mid-year and again at the end of the school year.
Give students an overview of the plan for the year (very briefly) as well as a breakdown of procedures, rules, and routines so they know what behavior is expected. The age of the student will dictate how long you need to set aside to teach and model procedures to help them be successful. Never assume that a student, regardless of age, already knows your expectations, rules, routines, or procedures.
As a teacher, it is up to you to decide how to start the new school year on a positive note, but being well prepared and establishing ground rules from the start is sure to make the rest of the year much easier. Being positive, respectful and polite towards students, as well as using praise to reinforce their enthusiasm will help them be more positive and ensure a happier class environment.
INcompassing Education provides professional development for teachers (on-site, off-site, and online PD). Our webinar series, Depression and Anxiety Disorders and Supporting Students of Trauma aim to equip educators with knowledge and skills to better support students. For any questions, please visit our contact page or like us on Facebook, INcompassing Education LLC.