The sooner you get behind, the more time you have to catch up.
While it may make logical sense, there’s still something not quite right about that way of thinking. And while I have done my share of all-nighters, finishing the last paragraph of a college paper as the sun’s rays crested the horizon, I don’t like living that way. Especially when I shed my student desk for the teacher’s. I need to be prepared. Be ahead of schedule. Have time to think through what I’ve already planned before it’s time to present it to the class.
One way of getting ahead of things as a teacher is to start planning the school year while you’re still off for summer break. Yes, poolside is far more inviting than behind a desk, but with a little preparation now, you can make the beginning of your school year a lot smoother and be far more prepared. And you don’t have to spend your whole summer vacation working for the coming school year. Here are some easy things you can do now to get ready for the year ahead.
7 Ideas to Get Ready for Back to School Now
Choose Your Textbooks
You may have your textbooks chosen for you. If so, great! Take a little time to refamiliarize yourself with what they cover. You don’t have to read them cover to cover. A simple glimpse at the table of contents is often enough. But if you choose your own textbooks, now is the time to consider what you will use for the coming year. Were you happy with the texts you used last year? Do you want to use them again? Do you have repeat students who would benefit from using different books this year, especially if you read a novel with your class last time they had you? Are there newly published books that will better suit your students and what you want to teach them? Take a look now and decide what you will use this fall. Then order books if necessary or let your bookstore know what they’ll need to have on hand for your students.
Set Your Monthly Goals
Do you know what you want to accomplish over the school year? What are your goals of yourself and your students? Think about them now and make a list. Then fit your goals into a monthly calendar. You can even take the chapters of your textbooks and plan out which ones you will cover each month. When you break your year down into smaller goals, monthly goals, it’s easier to plan your weekly lessons and even what you will do each day of the week. As you plan your year, don’t forget to include a couple of chunks of time for catching up, probably near the middle and end of your year. No one ever accomplishes everything they set out to do when they set out to do it, so plan on taking time to get yourself and your students back on schedule before the schedule is even set in stone.
Plan at Least One Fieldtrip
Fieldtrips are invaluable for ESL students. Every chance you have to get them in the real world using real English will only boost their English skills, so plan one or two now, before the daily demands of education start taking up all your time. Pay attention to where you are going now and how much English you are using while you’re there. Then brainstorm a list of places you might take your students – to a coffee shop to order in English. To a movie to practice listening comprehension. To a lecture or poetry reading. Some of your summer activities will certainly also be places you could take your ESL students. Once you have your list, pencil in the general time of year you would like to do these things. You don’t need exact dates. Just pencil in them in on your monthly goals. Also, you might want to get any paperwork you’ll need to fill out for your administration and get it started now even if you don’t turn it in until closer to the date you want to take the trip.
What teacher doesn’t like to shop for supplies at the teacher store? You’ll have a much more enjoyable experience if you do your shopping now rather than the week before school when all the good stuff is already gone. Place an order from a catalog now so you have enough time to check it all out before moving into your classroom or check out your local teacher store now while it’s still fully stocked. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress and have more selection if you do your shopping early. Besides, who doesn’t like to shop while they’re on vacation?
Plan Your Bulletin Boards Now
You get bonus points for teacher preparedness if you plan a year’s worth of bulletin boards now while your classroom is hibernating for the summer. Depending on what you have available in your classroom, consider planning one bulletin board that will last you all year with just slight changes such as a tree that you can decorate with leaves, colored leaves, snowflakes, and tissue paper flowers when the seasons change. Use another bulletin board that will grow throughout your school year such as a vocabulary wall that students add to as they learn new words outside the classroom or plan to set up a classroom GoodReads board where students review books they have read from your classroom library as well as those they read outside of class.
Devote Some Time to Professional Development
During the school year when we are all trying to give our students the best we have to offer, we don’t often have time for ourselves. Now is the time to invest in yourself as a teacher and as a person. Consider taking a summer course that might count toward your continuing education credits. Read a book to learn a new teaching technique. Think outside the box when it comes to teaching yourself. Learn how to integrate technology into the classroom or learn what a flipped classroom is and how to use it for ESL classes. When your classroom is full again, you’ll be excited to use what you learned while you were hanging out at the pool.
Build Your File of Fillers and Games
It’s always useful to have a set of fillers and games on hand for those spare minutes you have to fill in class. Start your collection or expand the collection you already have now. Try writing each activity on a manila folder, and put any supplies you might need for that activity inside the folder. Then put your folders in a box that you’ll keep handy in the classroom to pull out at a moment’s notice.
Make this coming school year the best one ever.
Invest a little time now and reap countless benefits later. You’ll be glad you did.