With the end of the summer season comes the beginning of the new school year. It is a time of sadness (no one likes waking up early!) but also a time of excitement. To teachers, the month of August symbolizes new students and new opportunities. We know that there is a lot to consider when planning for the next school year, so we’ve compiled this list of five tips to get teachers started!
Tip #1: Organize Your Space
An organized classroom can greatly impact both the student and the teacher. This is why it’s important for teachers to have a plan for how they would like to organize their space. There are a couple ways to create a fun and welcoming space for the students. One way is to create a color-coded system. This can be helpful for teachers who teach multiple classes in one day. Using paper trays that are assorted colors can help teachers keep materials for each class separate.
Another way for teachers to bring fun into their classroom is by decorating based on a theme. Jill White described her experience using a bug theme for her classroom and wrote, “I placed pictures from the previous school year on the door along with a ladybug. Playing off of the bug’s spots, I added the catch phrase: ‘Can you spot creative learning in a unique environment?’ This gave the incoming students a chance to sneak a peek at what was to come.” A theme can be fun for the students and great for teachers to ease their students into the lesson for the day.
Tip #2: Reflect on the Past
Experience is a valuable tool when it comes to teaching. Whether an educator has been teaching for two or 22 years, all teachers will find reflecting on the year that has passed is important. It is key for educators to keep a record throughout the year, or record at the end of the year, to reflect on what has worked and what hasn’t work in the classroom. Derrick Meador wrote in his article titled Back to School Tips for Teachers that “a teacher must allow experiences, both good and bad, to guide their overall approach to teaching” and that teachers should always be “looking for new ideas and methods to apply to their classroom.” So as you approach the beginning of a new academic year, consider what didn’t work and think about new methods to bring to the classroom that might work better instead.
Tip #3: Create Classroom Rules
Every classroom is governed by rules and it’s up to the teacher to set those rules. It’s best to set those rules early on so the students know what to expect and how to behave. The type of rules is up to the teacher to decide but it can be helpful to allow students to be part of the rule-making process. For example, one of the activities for the first day could be to have the students themselves write up a list of rules they think would be appropriate for the classroom. One may guide this activity by writing up a list of rules ahead of time and displaying them on the board and having the students call out or say what they think should be the rules or by having them individually write up a whole new list. According to Janelle Cox from TeachHub, “research has shown that when students share in the rulemaking, they tend to follow them.” At the end of the day, you will have the final say on what’s best for classroom management but this could be a good way to make students part of the decision-making process.
Tip #4: Find a Teacher Community
Starting a new academic year can be exciting but it can also be stressful. It’s not only a matter of a teacher getting themselves ready in terms of their coursework and their classroom but also mentally preparing themselves for the new academic year. Some teachers, either first-time or veteran, will experience anxiety when the summer comes to an end but it’s important to know that there are resources and communities out there that can help.
One website that has helpful resources in terms of tips, tricks, and a supportive community is Teacher2Teacher. Teacher2Teacher is a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation group dedicated to creating a teaching community and sharing insight whether it involves professional development, inspirational stories from the classroom, or just helpful tips. There’s something for every teacher on their website and there is comfort that comes with being part of a community.
Tip #5: Get Classroom Supplies
Getting supplies is a huge part of classroom prep at the beginning of the year; this is why, every August, there’s a back-to-school sale that is highly anticipated by teachers. For some teachers, getting supplies might even be the best part of going back to school—similar to being a kid in a toy store. Teachers will be excited to find out that there’s a year-round discount on ThinkFun products that is available just for educators! When educators order games in a case pack of 6, they can get 50% off of their order. Start the academic year off right with our wide variety of mind-challenging games and puzzles that will foster learning through play. Teachers that are interested in learning more about this discount can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope you have a great 2018-2019 year!