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Note: This is the first article in a three-part series on preparing for back to school.  Upcoming topics include building school – home connections and creating a healthy classroom community.

Is summer in your rear view window?  Well, whether you have a few days or weeks left in summer, preparing for the upcoming school year can be both exciting and daunting.  It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the school–or profession, changing grade levels, or a seasoned pro with decades in the game, this three-step “POP” method surely seeks to keep it simple so you can maximize those hours before the school bell rings.

Plan.  Don’t underestimate this simple step.  Planning is getting those ideas out of your head and onto paper, tablet, or whatever you store your thoughts.  With all the professional development and activities teachers have during the week, it’s a good thing to have that tangible piece to refer to during the scheduled down times.  Especially if this is your first year at a school or in the profession, get used to where things are in the building and the procedures for what you need to do each day, week, or month.  If you’ve learned a new teaching strategy you want to try, how will you integrate that into what you already do as a teacher?  Planning reduces anxiety and provides confidence that you’ve got this covered, which students can sense on those first few days of school.

Organize.  Now that you’ve got the ideas down, it’s time to prioritize.  What are the most important things that you’ve got to do and what can wait until the school year starts?  Arranging the room, reviewing student records, and making lesson plans are obvious, but what else?  Gathering supplies, determining initial student groupings, and textbook/digital notebook assignments are also key things to making the first weeks of the school year run smoothly.

Prepare.  Classroom design, lesson ideas, routine styles, meet and greet ideas, and exploring new technologies or resources available are great places to start.  Make sure you know how to pronounce your students’ and parents’ names as well as something about them (those cum folders may come in handy here).  Depending on your school’s requirements, having those lesson plans done for the first week (along with those sub plans) ahead of time helps you focus on getting ready to meet your students and their families for the first time.  Introduce yourself to or reconnect with colleagues you’ll come in contact with the most (including your building custodian, librarian, and office staff).  Making special treats, invites, and notes all take time but are important in making a great and memorable first impression.  Have the schedule posted and emergency forms ready to go.  You never know what the first days of school may bring (I got in a car accident on my very first day of school and had to ride the bus to work, getting there just moments before the kids arrived), so try to leave everything ready to go at least the day before school starts!


What tips and tricks have you used to get started for the school year?   Share below!



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