Effective Back to School Tips for Success
Welcome, and thank you for checking out this post on my 5 Effective Back to School Tips For Success. I will share some tried and true strategies that have helped me along my journey of teaching. First of all, can we agree that 2020 has been a year to be remembered? I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a new beginning. I’m ready for a sense of normalcy, but most of all, I’m excited to be back in the classroom with those sweet little faces. I miss teaching the traditional way. While virtual learning has some wonderful benefits, it surely doesn’t compare to the everyday interactions that I have with my students. I am uncertain as to what the new school year will hold, but I do know that I want it to be a successful one for my kids as well as for myself. With that being said, I hope these tips help you along the way, whether it be this year or years to come. Let’s jump in, shall we?!
Tip #1: Go shopping!
Yep, you read that right…. go shopping! I bet you’re wondering how in the world will shopping help me to have a successful school year. Let me ask…are you a teacher? Wait, I know that’s a “duh” question. Of course, you are a teacher. Ok, my fellow teacher friend, it’s time to go shopping!
As teachers, we have a million things to do, to remember, and to be prepared for on any given day. Do your research, then go out and buy yourself a PLANNER. I bet you thought I was going to suggest that you go shopping for new classroom décor. Nope…that is for a later discussion. Truly, you need a quality planner that fits YOUR teaching needs.
Having a place to organize all of those important notes is the first block in building a foundation for a successful school year. You need a place where you can organize all of your meetings, dates, student birthdays, notes, etc. I typically purchase my planner at the end of the school year for the upcoming year. Throughout the summer, I take some time to map out the upcoming school year by looking at holidays, important dates, etc. Also, I start a “running” list of all the things that I want to accomplish for the next school year, such as lessons, activities, projects, holiday activities, etc.
How I stay organized?
If you don’t want to purchase a planner, then get a binder and create a planner that is exclusive to you. There are many wonderful teacher planners on the market. You can purchase an “already” bound planner, a digital planner, or a planner that needs to be printed from TeachersPayTeachers or Etsy. The choices are endless!
Bottom line…get a planner that fits your needs. Don’t just purchase a planner; make a conscious effort to use it as well. If you would like some recommendations, send me an email, and I will be happy to give you a few recommendations and even send a few pictures.
Tip #2: Have a game plan!
This is one of those effective back to school tips that you can’t overlook. There is so much that goes into teaching every day. Whether it’s your first day or your last day of the school year, you must have a game plan. I have learned that I need to be prepared ahead of time if I want each day to be successful. I cannot expect to have a successful year if I don’t make a plan to have a successful day. You must go into each day knowing what you are teaching, knowing what you are doing, and knowing how you are going to make it all happen. I’m not saying that a successful day is a day where everything goes perfectly. A successful day is a day where you walk away feeling confident that you did the best you could do for that day.
Tip #3: Everything has a home
Organize, organize, organize!! I can’t express this enough. How many classes do you teach? How many students do you have? Where do your students turn in work? How do you pass back graded papers? These are all questions that need an answer. Trust me…there are many more questions. These are just a few. For your classroom to flow smoothly, you need to know how it flows first, but most of all, your students need to know the flow of the classroom. Your students need to know where to find their assignments, where to place papers, how to check out books from the classroom library, where to turn books in, where to store their notes…. the list goes on and on.
Before school even begins, take a long hard look at your amazing classroom. Determine how things are going to flow and begin the process of creating those cutesy labels, the colorful back to school bulletin board, the desk nameplates, the …. you get the idea! Create a flow that you and your students can understand.
Tip #4: Classroom management and beyond
You have to be ready to “hit the ground running” on day one with your classroom management rules and procedures. Harry Wong says, “The most important day of a person’s education is the first day of school, not Graduation Day.” The first day makes or breaks your entire school year. This statement probably sounds dramatic, but there is so much truth in this one statement.
I have had the privilege of attending Harry Wong’s conference twice before even becoming a teacher. I listened attentively to every word he said and read his book, “The First Days of School,” from cover to cover several times. This book is full of useful and effective back to school tips. Another book that I highly recommend is “The Classroom Management Book.” by Harry and Rosemary Wong. I reference these two books every year before starting back. I build a game plan and have all of the details planned before the first day of school.
Back to School Tip: Rules, Procedures, and Reteach it!
You have to go into your first day with rules and procedures in place. It’s imperative that you create a system you can easily implement every day of the year. A system that is easy to follow and understand will be one that will be enforced all year long. When your students know what you expect, they will know what to do. One of my “must-have” classroom management procedures is my classroom hand signals. You can read more about them here.
Please do not create a rule or implement a procedure that you can’t follow through with every day. Your kids will notice! When they notice, they come to realize that they can stretch the rules. When they begin stretching the rules, well…you know the rest! Hold them accountable even with the small things. Let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no…. Period!
Tip #5: Love, love, love
Finally, this is the last but one of the most important and effective back to school tips that I can give you. Love your kiddos! I mean, REALLY, love them. They are little humans who need to be loved and respected too. At the beginning of the school year, make a point to get to know your kiddos individually. Take the time to ask questions and to build a solid foundation of trust. This is not something that you learn in college or read about in the behavioral theories’ books. It is something that comes from the heart.
When I was in college, I had a professor who shared a story about an elementary student who had a rough life and had faced several tragic events at such a young age. This professor told our class, “Be at your door every morning to smile and greet your students then in the afternoon send them home with a smile, a high five, or a hug because your smile and warmth may be the only kindness they receive that day.” This piece of advice has stuck with me through all of my years of teaching. Every morning you can find me at my door ready to greet my babies as they walk down the hall.
Back to School Tip: Start Each Day New!
Another important tip is to make a point to start your year with a clean slate for each student. I know you hear about the behavior issues, concerns, etc. from other teachers. Take these things to heart, but don’t let that be a barrier to building trust. Each student deserves an opportunity to start fresh. Allow them the chance to open up and be the person they were created to be. Always listen attentively, react slowly, love unconditionally, and respect your students. When your students know you genuinely love and care for them, they will hang the moon for you. Like I said earlier, this is one of the school tips that you don’t learn in college. It’s built within our hearts.
Teaching is a beautiful journey! However, when it comes to a successful year, you can be your own best friend or your own worst enemy. For your year to be a success, it is not dependent on your students and how they behave. It’s dependent on you and how you prepare. Make each day count. Use these highly effective back to school tips to help you build a solid foundation that aids in supporting and creating a successful school year.