As the new school year approaches, we know that many teachers will be feeling apprehensive about their return to the classroom. Where do you start with the planning and preparation that needs to be done for the start of term? What displays should you use? What supplies do you need? If that sounds like you, don’t worry! We’re here to help you with some tried-and-true methods to ensure the best start to your academic year.
Spend some of the time you have left of the holidays reflecting on your last year of teaching. What worked well last year? Plan how you’ll use more of the same methods this year. Pinpoint any missteps or mistakes and make a plan to avoid doing them again, too. In this plan, set some small and achievable goals to keep you on track throughout the year. (e.g. learn to say “no” when you’re asked to do extra work you don’t have time to complete.)
Whether you’re in the same classroom as last year, or have a new kingdom to rule over, try a new design, layout, or colour scheme to keep the boredom away for both you and your pupils. A good place to start is to arrange the desks or tables in a way that benefits what you want to teach (see our piece on how classroom layout can impact pupil learning for some ideas) and put out name tags so pupils know where to sit on their first day.
Put up some age-appropriate displays to motivate and inspire your pupils, whether this is on the walls, doors, or washing lines strung across the ceiling. Get creative – fun and friendly decor which is still focussed on learning is the key! (Our Pinterest boards have some great ideas for reading displays, seasonal decorations, general classroom displays, and organisational hacks, if you get stuck for inspiration!)
The torrent of paper will begin straight away, and the only way to get ahead of it is to get organised before term begins. Although your organisational plan should be customised for yourself and your classroom, you will create a good base to build on by beginning with a physical file for each pupil in your classroom (for sick notes, incident reports, timetables, etc), as well as files for pastoral information, memos, INSET and training, and NQT materials (if necessary).
Now is the time for a shopping spree. Buy things you want to use, like a beautiful notebook or a pen that writes nicely. This helps in making your work a more enjoyable experience, rather than a painful one.
Assess your wardrobe, and buy yourself some new teacher clothes. A new outfit (or five) can make you feel like last year’s tired and stressed version of yourself never even existed.
Don’t forget all the supplies you’ll need to keep your classroom stocked up and to put the finishing touches to those displays.
Once you’re back to work, within the first few days you’ll be back into the routine of teaching. Plan a treat for yourself in the first weekend of term, and hold onto that holiday feeling! A massage will help get rid of that first-week tension, and a dinner with a group of teacher friends gives you the chance to decompress and evaluate your first week back.
Not quite ready to get stuck into preparation for the new school year? Then take a look at our tips on making the most out of your summer holidays.
The Reading Corner is Engage’s thinking space – full of teaching insights and advice!
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