Get Ready for Back-to-School

Our summer vacay is almost here, and I am bone-weary, brain-tired, and ready for a well-deserved break. 

However, being the proud teaching nerd that I am, I'm already thinking of ways I can be more effective and efficient next year. Yes, relaxing and unwinding are in order, but…during the leisurely days of summer, why not use some of that mindless vacation time to be just a little bit mind-full, too?  Summer is the perfect time to marinate on these ideas that are sure make your ‘classroom life’ better when school starts in the fall.

If you’re also ready to use a few slices of your summer to make your fall easier, check out these helpful (and fun!) ways to get ready for fall when it arrives. Which isn't for a long, long time, right? ;)
You can be beach-bound AND getting ready for a new school year at the same time. My favorite tip is #2!

Box It Up! 
I have to pack every single book, poster, bin, and paper clip into boxes before I leave for summer because the floors are getting redone. To make things easier on myself for next year, I'm forcing myself to discard tons of stuff and labeling everything else with the month I need the items inside. I also have a few boxes labeled "I'm not sure I'll care if this box gets lost." I did this partially to get a chuckle out of the custodians and partially because I'm trying hard not to be a packrat. Chances are good that those boxes will not get unpacked. Instead, I'll decide later what I want to toss or keep. 

If you were also told to pack up your classroom, take the opportunity to get rid of things and make it easy on yourself for next year by packing everything in boxes by the month that you’ll use them.  Unpacking in August will be so much easier if you're only unpacking a few boxes. 

Listen Up!  
Along with some fun & frivolous reading this summer, try listening to a few engaging education podcasts too. Listening to them during the summer months can help to reignite your teaching fire for the fall. This one is high on my list, having been recommended by a few teacher friends: 

Always A Lesson’s Empowering Educators Podcast
Always a Lesson's Empowering Educators Podcast is like inspiration in a... pod. I'm tuning in to learn best practices from teacher leaders while I walk Sunny. He's excellent company. But not much of a conversationalist, so our walks provide the perfect time for a podcast. 

Change It Up!
I'm taking advantage of my new floors to come up with a total 21st century classroom redesign (pics and posts to follow!). Summer will be a great time to peruse Pinterest for cool images and ideas. 

If you feel the need to change the theme or décor in your classroom here’s an idea to find a new one…rather than try to brainstorm and force yourself to come up with an idea, just keep an eye out for appealing images and scenes over the summer. Then start shopping! It’s much more fun to wait for an idea to ‘speak to you’ rather than to force yourself into something at the last minute. 

Listen Up x 2!
Do you have some new & unfamiliar books that you’re required to teach next year? If so, why not listen to the audio version and jot down any relevant questions that come to mind as you’re listening? Often, those complex ‘higher order thinking skills’ questions are easiest to come up with when you’re just listening for fun, rather than hyper-focusing on what questions to ask as you read while planning.

Soak It Up!
Along with some rays, soak up some new info this summer! If you have to teach a new class in the fall--something you’ve never taught before-- another way to make it easy on yourself is to start now by reviewing the curriculum in little chunks. Don’t wait until the last minute ‘planning-panic’ time comes in August.  

Also, if you know any teachers who have already taught the class, don't be shy about asking what works and what doesn’t.  People are almost always eager to share what works well for them. Especially if the sharing is accompanied by a fruity drink.

Talk It Up!
Think about how communication with parents went for you this past year.  Decide over the summer if you’d like to make any changes. Do you want to start a parent newsletter or online group?  Maybe there’s some other (time-saving) way of communicating with parents that might work better. Perhaps a personal classroom drone can hand-deliver messages. :) During summer, we have the time to explore all of the possible ways to make our lives easier next year.

Amp It Up!
Summer is a great time to amp up your classroom’s online presence through social media. "Branding" your classroom by showcasing your ideas and hard work is another way to create a favorable impression of your teaching skills and all the work that goes on in your class. This could be mighty helpful to have in your corner during evaluation time! 

Engaging with other classes in your school, your district, or even around the world is always impressive to parents and administrators. Setting accounts up over the summer will allow you the time to explore what will work best for you and your class, whether it’s Instagram, Twitter, Edmodo or some other educational online platform.

Rest Up!
After patting yourself on the back for another academic year completed, please take lots of time to rest and recharge your batteries. 

And when you feel the time is right, be sure to give some thought to the ideas that I’ve shared here. They are offered to help you have an incredibly successful teaching experience next year!

Do you have any suggestions about the little things we can do to make back-to-school a little easier?

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