It’s almost time to go back to school and I’m sure your to-do list is like mine. Put up bulletin boards, get out the staplers and highlighters you stashed in your desk, make copies of your syllabus, and figure out what you’re going to do on the first day of school. There’s a ton of things to do!
However, there a few things you SHOULDN’T do to get ready for school. Here are three things you should avoid doing.
1. End Summer Too Early
I know it’s easy to think that once you start planning for next year and spending time in the building to get things ready that summer is officially over. But it doesn’t have to be. There are lots of great hacks for getting ready for school that still allow you to enjoy summer.
For example, go to the pool and get work done there (your public pool might have wifi.) Or sit on the deck in the morning and work with a cup of coffee or tea (or in the evening with a glass of wine.) You aren’t in school yet, so you have the flexibility that you can work lots of places. Get creative and find a summery place to get work done.
However, if you are one of those people who are more productive if you work in your room, you might want to do that. But you CAN dictate how much time you spend there. If you tell yourself “I’m going in all next week to get my room ready” there’s a good chance that you’ll spend all week there. Instead, say “I’m going to go in Monday and Tuesday from 9-2 and take the rest of the week off.” You’ll likely get the same amount of work done in a shorter amount of time because you planned it that way. And then you have five days left in the week to play!
Things tend to take as long as we think they will. If we get in the mindset that we can be productive in a shorter amount of time, we won’t fill all of our time with schoolwork.
Often I find that school isn’t the best place to get work done anyway. Other teachers stop in and ask about my summer about before I know it I have passed an hour talking to people. instead of working. I like to go in on Saturdays and Sundays when no one’s there.
2. Plan Too Much
As you get ready for school you’re likely getting together with other teachers and planning for the school year. Or maybe you’re doing it by yourself. However, it’s really easy to waste a lot of time because you’re planning too much.
Fo one thing, you’re not operating at maximum efficiency. You’ve been out of school for a while and you aren’t back in “teacher mode” yet, so you’ll be much better at planning once the school year starts.
Also, there’s a high likelihood you’ll abandon a lot of what you planned anyway. There have been many times that I have planned out a month’s worth of lessons only to change them all once school starts because once I’m immersed in the classroom, I get better ideas. All my skills at planning that were elusive in the summer come back to me. And when I have to fix something for the next day, the solutions tend to come much quicker. Plus, you haven’t met your students yet! How can you plan a bunch of lessons when you don’t know what skills they are going to come to you with? And what the general disposition of the class will be?
What does make sense is to plan out the year, and decide which assessments you’ll be doing and when. But leave the day to day stuff for when you meet your students.
3. Spend too much money
You may have a Pinterest board called “Classroom Decor” where you have put a bunch of ideas for your classroom. There are some great ideas out there, but don’t feel like you have to spend hundreds of dollars, which is what some of those ideas will cost.
If it’s important to you to create the perfect classroom environment, that’s great. But remember that classroom decor does not increase learning. There are some great free posters out there for ELA classrooms that won’t cost you a penny.
I see a lot of people spending money on flexible seating (again, something you’ll see all over Pinterest), but this can break the bank more than anything else. Get your furniture at garage sales or thrift stores or see what your school might have in storage. Also, before you decide to do flexible seating, you might want to read this post.
What IS worth your money is quality classroom supplies that save you time because you don’t have to create them. I know you’re the kind of teacher that wants to save time because you have so much to do. I also know you’re the kind of teacher that loves to make their classroom fun. If so, I have the perfect solution for you.
I have a series of lessons done as comics that address various ELA topics like grammar, poetry, editing, and Shakespeare, all of which will make your students glad they came to class that day. All the fun is there for you, and your kids will love studying any of these topics because they’ll get a new comic every day! Please check out my resources and let the learning begin!