There is no truth to the term “summer break” for teachers. The only break that truly takes place is a “break” from the routine of going to school and teaching a set number of students Monday-Friday from early in the morning into the early evening. One who has no connection to an educator has no idea what goes into the work before, during, and at the end of a school year. A teacher’s work is truly never done. If you are reading this post, you are an educator, so I don’t need to get into each detail of our never-ending teacher life cycle.
One truth about our profession that many don’t realize is that as teachers, we are ALWAYS: creating more thoughtful and effective resources, buying classroom items, or attending professional development to tweak and make our instruction even more effective. Teachers are always: thinking about our instruction, contemplating a better and more effective ways to teach a concept, working to make our classroom design the perfect set-up for our students, and considering those people, young and old, that we work with daily.
So while I know you haven’t really strayed far from teaching mode during your “summer break,” here are a 8-things to consider, reflect on, and work on to make the back to school transition easier…
#1: Reflect on what worked and didn’t work so well. While no year is ever the same with changes to curriculum, testing, and a different group of students, if you are remaining in the same position, what will you tweak to make even better? Typically, I find two things that I want to completely overhaul and get to work on those during the summer months.
#2: Organize the structure of your time with students. Map it out and strategize to get the biggest instructional bang for all of your work. If you have a curriculum calendar, you are on the right track. Map your instruction, and determine the structure of your day.
#3: Revamp classroom procedures. Some classrooms function like well-oiled machines. If you want your classroom to run well, consider the procedures for different tasks and determine how you will help students learn them quickly. Procedures to consider:
- bell ringer work for student arrival
- collecting completed work
- passing back graded work
- absent students and missing work
#4: Planning and grading are two essential parts of teaching that are time consuming. What do you want to continue to do because it seemed to work well or change because it was time-intensive and not effective? Now is the time to jot down thoughts and make those adjustments so you can go into the year with a game plan for success.
#5: Classroom accountability is one that needs adjusting all of the time. Different years bring different students that operate in different ways and with different levels of motivation. Here is a recent about the strategies we used on my 6th grade team to hold students accountable for their work and behavior 2-Alternatives to the Great Recess Takeaway
#6: How will communicate with parents and keep them informed about the happenings in the classroom? Will you do a weekly newsletter, class blog, Facebook page? I like to use a combination of these three tools, but you have to consider your school community and whether those are the best tools for keeping parents in the communication loop.
#7: Create, review, or outline your curriculum calendar. Many districts tackle this at the end of the school year so teachers can work throughout the summer months gearing up for the next school year. If your district is not one of these, start your work on this now. It is time consuming, but it will give you an outline of the learning that needs to take place and you can tailor your instruction to meet students’ needs.
#8: Your well-being. How will you take care of you? Your health and wellness is essential. Get into a routine in these coming weeks and stick with it. Researchers say that it takes 21 days to establish a habit. Start your healthy habits now, so they are automatic upon your return to the classroom. If you lack motivation, find friends that will hold you accountable and get started. Some new routines to examine: walking, running, biking, swimming, or eating better. Get active or remain active, and you will be an even better mom, dad, friend, wife, husband, and teacher, I promise. This is me with my oldest after a 5K. I run and now he loves it too.
While the return to school may seem distant, I can assure you that Target is already gearing up for your valiant return. I am a planner and organizer, so these simple considerations make my life easier when school is looming. If you are looking for some print and go resources to jump start your year, grab these…
Be sure to make the most of the rest of your summer, but take some time to start gearing up for your inevitable return.
All the best!