Planning Ahead: How to Prepare for the Next School Year . . . Now
Now is the time of year when students start ticking off the remaining school days on the calendar and setting their sights on summer vacation. And, let’s be honest, teachers do too! On top of your normally hectic days, you’ll have loads of extra tasks and activities to fit in—field trips, final assessments, class parties, report cards, and more. Your to-do list may seem jam-packed, but if you can spare a little time to prepare for the next school year, you’ll enjoy a smooth transition when the first bell rings. You’ll thank yourself for thinking ahead!
Outline What Worked…And What Didn’t
The close of a school year is a great time to reflect on your lesson plans. Take some time to evaluate which lessons were a success and which could be improved with a few tweaks. Ask yourself these questions: Which themes generated the least student excitement and now need fresh teaching ideas? Which lessons did the class struggle with? Which exercises did your students breeze through?
You should also consider your teacher/parent communication. Do you feel that your methods of communication were effective or did many families feel out of the loop? Prepare for the next school year by implementing new communication tools.
Organization is Key
You are a teacher, so organization is one of your superpowers! Put your organizational skills to work at the end of the year for easier school year prep over the summer. A blog post from Upper Elementary Snapshot spotlights 3 Boxes Teachers Should Pack Before Summer Vacation.
1. For the First Week: include copies of “getting to know you” worksheets, classroom and take-home folders, writing journals, copies of lesson plans, morning work, read aloud books, sharpened pencils, and other supplies.
2. For Your Desk: include your own teacher supplies—your planner, pens, Sharpies, dry erase markers, post-it notes, hot glue gun, and (extra large) coffee mug.
3. Classroom Set-up: include your seating chart, name tags, bulletin board decorations, class schedule, “helper” schedule, and anchor charts.
Look for Gaps in Your Leveled Reading Library
Your reading lessons are coming to an end, so now’s a great time to check your supply of leveled books. Did you find that your low-level students had tons of titles to pick from, while your more advanced readers repeated the same books over and over again? To prepare for the next school year, consider a book swap with other teachers in your team. They may have the books you need and vice versa. If you’re still coming up short, touch base with your literacy coach about expanding your classroom library. Your wishlist for books should include an abundance of reading levels and curriculum themes, as well as fun, kid-friendly topics that can build your students’ love for reading.
Prepare for Back-to-School Night
Remember back to all the excitement (and chaos!) in the first few weeks of a school year. Did back-to-school nights sneak up on you? If you share parent guides or family resources during your presentation, get a head start on school year prep by ordering them over the summer. They’ll be ready and waiting for you on day one.
Are you looking for helpful tools to hand out to parents? For lower elementary grades, include guides like When a Child Reads… and When A Child Writes… that answer common questions parents have about helping their child read and write. For upper elementary or middle school grades, include an introduction to Common Core State Standards and homework/studying strategies or information that touches on social/emotional topics like social media activity and online bullying.
Check These off Your List
A few more items you can complete before you break for the summer:
- Take inventory of unused supplies (pencils, crayon packs, glue sticks, folders, etc.).
- Organize and clean manipulatives and art supplies.
- Dispose of or shred any unnecessary paperwork. Same goes for electronic files, too!
- Update/refresh the Welcome letter and school supply list you send to your students over the summer.