After the nine month grind of a school year, teachers look forward to the summer months to decompress and get refreshed for the next school year. Unfortunately, the summer months always seem to pass by quickly and before you know it the new school year is rapidly approaching. The start of a new school year can be hectic and bring about anxiety in young and experienced teachers alike. Here are some suggestions to help all teachers make a seamless transition back to school.
1. Reflect upon the past school year- Take advantage of summer vacation and reflect upon the last school year. Think about what worked well, what didn’t work well and what you can do differently during the new school year. Unfortunately first year teachers only have their student teaching experience to draw from which is somewhat limited but useful. Teachers that have at least one year of experience, as well as veteran teachers, can use this as a valuable tool for self-evaluation. If you want to be a great teacher, always look for new methods and ideas to implement. It will help avoid burnout by challenging you to be the best, and get the best from your students.
2. Plan Ahead- All teachers should plan ahead. Create lessons for the first few weeks, and make the first week fun! The first couple of days are typically consumed with classroom policies and procedures. Be sure to plan activities that help everyone get to know each other. This will establish the foundation for building a strong sense of community in your classroom. Also consider keeping lessons plans from the previous year. Instead of completely re-doing lesson plans each year, make appropriate adjustments that you believe will enhance the subject matter.
3. Connect with parents early- It is very important for teachers to establish a positive relationship with their parent community. Make the effort to communicate with parents during the first few weeks of school to show that you have their child’s best interest in at heart. However, avoid letting the communication lag when the school year is in full swing. In addition to your weekly newsletter, continue to keep parents abreast of triumphs and concerns throughout the school year via e-mail or phone calls. The combination of teacher efforts and support from home will enable students to experience a successful school year.
4. 1st year teachers: Use veteran teachers at your school as a resource- Being a first year teacher can be a bit overwhelming even for the most confident person. You may feel well prepared after success in the classroom and requisite student teaching assignments in order to obtain a teaching license. However, keep in mind that everything you learned from books works perfectly in an ideal situation. Being in the classroom will bring about situations that were not a part of your course of study. Use your own good sense, but don’t be afraid to seek advice from more experienced teachers (at your school)or ones you know at other schools). Whether they have taught for 3 years or 30 years, chances are they have experienced things that can he help as you begin your teaching career.
*Experienced teachers should use their colleagues as a resource as well!
All teachers, especially elementary and middle school teachers, have to manage the level of noise in their classroom on a daily basis. Click here to read 27 attention grabbers to help redirect your classroom back to the task at hand!
Today's youth are a part of a generation that is more connected than ever before. Everyone with a cell phone can digitally engage with anyone, anywhere and anytime they wish. There are children as young as eight years old that have cell phones!
It's that time of year when many kids are heading off to sleep away camp for a couple of weeks (some for a month), and the cell phone is not an item on many camp's "suggested packing" list. I'm certain many children and parents will be upset to find out that the sleep away camp has a no cell phone policy. In fact, some sleep away camps have a strict policy regarding "no electronics" which also includes other handheld devices such as Kindle, iPod Touch, and Nintendo 3DS.
I believe there is great value to be gleaned from a sleep away camp experience, and electronic devices should not be allowed. Here are my reasons why.
1. It is one of the first steps toward independence. In essence, if your child has a cell phone they basically have a GPS device attached to them. Camp may be one of the only chances for your child to have free reign (to a certain extent) within their immediate environment.
2. It is an opportunity to learn valuable life skills.
4. Enjoy the outdoors. Activities such as climbing trees, building dens, playing catch, tossing a frisbee, riding bikes (to name a few) have been replaced by hours spent in front of television, computer or a variety of handheld electronic devices. I recently read that kids today average of 8 hours per day of "screen time" (that includes any during school hours). For some children, these experiences beyond the "concrete jungle" are eye opening experiences,, and it helps them realize that one can have fun without electronics.
5. Cultivating relationships with adults other than your parents and teachers. Being able to connect with a counselor (or more than one) is an excellent opportunity for children to develop a friendship with an adult that has no agenda.
6. Composing handwritten letters. This is sadly becoming a dying art form. It is a skill they rarely, if ever, get to practice. Handwritten letters to their parents allows children time to collect their thoughts and express their feelings without the potential ridicule from others (be it malicious or sarcastic) via social media. Many of them experience handwritten letters for the first time and really enjoy it!
Some camps are loosening the reigns regarding technology at their camps, but most are staying true to their "no electronics" policy.
Would you be able to survive not communicating with your child for 2,3, 4 weeks while they are at sleep away camp? Would your child be able to endure the camp experience without technology they use on a regular basis?