Back to school hints and tips

A week or so before the new term starts

  • Look over your old plans and resources. Decide if there is anything you want to re-use or re-purpose.
  • If you know some of the groups you will have next year, map out some topics to carry you until the next break.
  • If you have any new groups, then just sketch out your plans. Draw up an outline of where you want to go with them but remember you will need flexibility to adapt to their needs.
  • Buy stationery. You will need folders, blank postcards, cheap pens, a grading pen. Make sure at least one of your folders can hold things that don’t have holes, for when you take in work.

The night before

  • Don’t do any work! Go out and watch a movie. Or go do something that will tire you out, to counteract new term nerves.
  • You have not forgotten how to teach. I promise!

The first day of classes

  • Have a fun activity that introduces students to you and to each other, that showcases what you like most about teaching. Games are good but any diverting or entertaining activity is great.
  • Have your students fill out their addresses on the back of the postcards. Say that you will send one or two a week with some good news.
  • If you are using any internet resources, only introduce the ones you need your students to use straight away. For example, I get my students signed up onto Edmodo in the first lesson but Showbie, ClassDojo, Wikispaces, epals, Kaizena etc, can wait until later in the week (or fortnight).

The rest of the first week

Share your plans with your students. Of course, you will want to modify the level of detail but there’s no harm in signposting your intentions and getting your students excited about the upcoming lessons.

The second week

  • Here’s the time you can go over your expectations about behaviour with your students. Unless they are kindergarteners, they already know how to behave in class (and you will have some idea about who has problems in this area).
  • Sign them up gradually for the other internet resources.
  • Recruit students to do some of your job for you. Maybe they could take the attendance register, greet visitors to the classroom, be in charge of visual displays… Be prepared to provide some training but the time you spend on startup is more than repaid later on in the year.
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