Start Planning for the Fall Now
Spend some time reviewing the current school year in order to give yourself a break this summer.
By Alicia Johnson
Start planning for the fall? Now? It’s May! I know you might be thinking, I don't even want to think about the fall right now; Are you crazy? I understand completely. But, if you are like me, you actually want to have a few minutes of summer to relax in-between college classes, family vacations, teacher in-services, CPR classes, yard work, and reading (fiction). How can you find that summer peace? By doing a little of the legwork now while you are still in go mode.
The month of May can be a time of mixed emotions. As teachers, we are looking forward to some well-deserved rest. However, we still face a few more weeks of school with students who sense that spring is in the air. They are starting to get antsy. Some kids think that since their standardized tests are over, learning must be over too. Fights and squabbles seem to erupt out of thin air. The calendar is jammed with administrative reports, award ceremonies, prom decorating, sports banquets, etc. How can one month hold all these activities? And now, I am suggesting that you to add one more thing...well five more things to be exact!
The Five R's
Remember the events of this school year. It is a whole lot easier to think about the school year before it is over than it is to try to remember the details in August. Think of the school year as a series of events. Were there a lot of issues you had to deal with this year? Did most of the issues center around discipline, homework, parents and/or co-workers? I've listed some questions in each of these categories to help you remember. Once you have recalled some of the difficulties, write them down, and use the knowledge to revamp next year's plan.
- Discipline: Do you need to re-evaluate your discipline plan? Did you choose your battles correctly? Did you start fresh each day? Do you have so many rules that even you can't keep track of them? Do you not have enough rules and consequently, own stock in Tylenol? Were your directions clear?
- Homework: Was your homework a planned part of your lessons, or did you just assign it when you ran out of time? Did you assign so much homework that keeping track of it drained you? Did your pupils feel your homework was helpful in cementing the ideas you discussed during class, or did they feel like it was more of a punishment? Did you spend more time explaining the homework than you did the lessons?
- Parents: How well did you keep parents in-the-loop this year? Did you only contact them with bad news? Did you utilize parents as an asset, or give them the feeling you thought of them as part of the enemy camp? Did parents have access to you? Did your professionalism win the day?
- Co-Workers: Did you take the time this year to share thoughts and ideas with your co-workers? Did you ever ask for feedback? If a co-worker was filling the lounge with negativity, did you leave the room, or add fuel to the fire? Did you utilize the technology person or the librarian? (They can be tremendous assets.)
Review your lessons. Each year there are lessons that go well, and others that leave a lot to be desired. It is easier now for you to search through your notes and decide which lessons were winners, and which need to be improved or deleted for next year. Many times it only takes minor tweaks to make a lesson just right; but first you have to pin point the problem(s). I also like to review scores on assessments and see if there was a trend for particular lessons. Maybe I need to re-word some of the questions or have a better form of assessment:
- Can you remember lessons where there seemed to be more energy in the classroom?
- What was the subject matter?
- Did you use technology?
- How did you make this lesson more relevant to your students?
- How could you make other lessons more relevant?
- Reward yourself for successes.
- Recognize the things you did well this year.
- Maybe share a success with a co-worker and enjoy a movie together or go out for ice cream.
- Download a new app to help you with your organization for next year.
- Buy yourself a new plant to enjoy over the summer at home, and then have it on your desk next year to remind yourself that sometimes your hard work and planning help things to go just right!
- Rewrite the parts of your lessons you want to change for next year.
- After you decide which lessons were successful and which were not, re-work the ones that need help and maybe spruce-up those that were successful.
- Try a new introduction.
- Re-write some of the directions on assignment sheets to add clarity.
Remind yourself why you teach. You deserve a break. Give yourself a true summer break by starting your fall planning now. I wish you a calm, successful finish to your school year, a safe summer, and an improved, and even better next school year!