Monday, August 17, 2015

Surviving Back to School: Advice From the Pros!

There is no tired like the tired a teacher feels the first few weeks of school. One year I had a newborn baby and missed the first few weeks of school. Even with middle of the night feedings and constant infant care, I actually felt like I was more rested than my friends who were teaching.

One of the things I LOVE about being part of the Planning in Paradise blog is the support I get from this amazing group of teachers. I am returning to teaching after taking a two year leave of absence to be a mom and teacher author. It goes without saying that I am a little apprehensive about how I am going to do it all. I know I can get through the first day like a pro, but then I have to go back and do it again. Every. Day. Five. Days. In. Row. Until. June. GULP!

After considering hyperventilating into a paper bag or crawling under the covers and refusing to come out, I realized that I needed to take the survival advice I give to new teachers. I tell them to find the teachers they admire, seek out the teachers whose classrooms make you wish you were in school again, look to the teachers who make it look easy, turn to the teachers are who you want to be, and ask them for advice! Ask how they have wonderfully crafted lessons. Ask how they have such cute outfits on daily basis. Ask them how they manage to feed their family, have matching clothes, get the kids to soccer practice, and plan a fabulous lesson every day.

So I did that. I sought out these teachers who are some of my favorite blogger and TPT sellers and asked, “How do you survive the first few weeks of school.” These are the gems of wisdom I got. I am so grateful for the answers. I feel like I can do this. I’ve got this! I do not need a paper bag to breathe in (however I will accept any and all donations of chocolate)!

Here are the gems of wisdom:

Practice Routines and Procedures
“Practice routines and procedures until it looks exactly the way you want your classroom to run. Wow them with engaging activities right from the start and show them how much you care and express your highest expectations for them all. Believe they all can reach them. 
Plus, have ready made meals on hand for the first 2 weeks. Prepare your family for lots of pizza and peanut butter and jelly. And try to enjoy the journey!”

Find Opportunities to Collaborate
“Look for opportunities for positive collaboration with other teachers. The best ideas and classroom solutions come from the synergy created by positive teachers working together.”

Use Team Building and Class Building Activities
“Take time to play class builder and team building games where the kiddos get to know each other and you. Use these games to reinforce skills for everyday tasks like shopping for books, getting new pencils, going to the bathroom, etc. Let the kiddos get to know routines before throwing any standards in the mix by using the year before standards to practice whatever routine it is you are working on.”

Cara from Kindergarten Boom Boom

Collaborate With Your Team
"Collaborative team planning is a must this time of year!  Get together with teammates to share ideas and resources instead of planning on your own at home on Sunday night!  You'll have more fun and your instruction will be even better!  Be sure to designate someone to bring the chocolate!"

Schedule Time to Practice Routines and Procedures
Build time into your schedule during the first week (and maybe even the second week) of school to teach and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE classroom routines and expectations.  Consider asking yourself the following questions:

  • How should my students enter my classroom?
  • What should they do as soon as they enter my classroom?
  • What should they do when they have completed morning work?
  • What is my procedure for getting their attention?
  • What is my procedure for when a student needs to leave his/her seat (to use the restroom, sharpen a pencil, get a drink or a tissue, etc.)?
  • How should students line up?
  • How should they walk in the hallways?
  • What will my dismissal routine look like?
Don't be afraid to spend AS MUCH TIME AS YOU NEED on establishing routines.  Practice until they have it perfect!  If you put in the time right from the start, it will allow you more time throughout the school year to teach meaningful content rather than managing student disruptions. Trust me, you'll thank yourself later!  

Find Time to Laugh
"Even though you'll be knee-deep in procedures the first few days, find ways to make your students laugh (frequently if possible)!"

No New Shoes!
Make sure that you "break in"  any new shoes.  After being in flip flops all summer squeezing into tight enclosed shoes is miserable!  Your feet are already going to hurt!!

Prepare Easy and Healthy Meals
Food is important! Buy & use a crock pot so your dinners are ready for you when you come home. Also, all your lunch meals need to be easy to eat for the first few weeks. Sandwiches and finger foods are perfect! You're so on the go but you can't forget to eat!! (Pack a cookie or two for lunch too!) 

Take Time for Routines, Make Friends, Communicat3 WIth Parents,  and Find Teachers Pay Teachers 
Tip #1: Find Classroom Management. Take as much time as you need to establish the routines and expectations in your classroom. If it takes two week, so be it. If it takes a month, so be it. Do no take any short cuts. Do not skip over it. Classroom management will make your the proudest teacher ever ...or the lack thereof, will bring you to tears!  

Tip #2: Find a friend. Find that someone at school who you can go to for help. It is hard to know what to even ask…so find that person who will listen, who will understand and will offer advice.

Tip #3: Find a way to communication with parents regularly; daily folders, emails, and classroom blogs.

Tip #4: Find small ways to keep your custodian happy…you want them in your corner.

Tip #5: Find, there is a wealth of free and paid teaching resources at your fingertips. Take the help others offer because it is impossible to do it all yourself. 

1 comment:

  1. Ready to take on another school year, so excited to have you back!!!