July 3, 2016

How to Plan for the Year During Summer

Summer days comes with hot rays and sunny days! But if you are teacher, you need to throw Back to School planning into the mix. Before you even start buying all of the things at the Target Dollar Spot try these tips to start planning the school year during summer! 

1. Plan from the inside out

Don't get trapped in buying, there will always be time for that! 
What do you mean ? Easy , start planning the school year during by first thinking of internal stuff like student work, curriculum and activities then work on external stuff like classroom theme, bulletin boards and all things that makes classrooms super cute. Many teachers are consumed in the visual aspect of the classroom it takes up a lot of their time and before you know it's time to teach . Don't get trapped in the cute bulletin board aspect of teaching, there's will be time for that! Don't get me wrong, decorating comes with the job but its not the meat and potato of teaching.  

2. Start with a calendar

Start your planning with a calendar
Before you even print or laminate your life away, planning the school year during summer requires you to have a visual of the school year . We sometimes think we have a lot of time to teach and have time to do all of these wonderful projects but ,the reality is far from this . Once the school year starts is like passing go in that monopoly board . You will always be on the go! Holidays and school celebrations will be here before you know it . And believe it or not, teachers are always celebrating something every month . Don't let these things creep on you . Mark a calendar with important dates to help you visualize and get ready for those dates. 

Here's How To Do It: 

Start with a district calendar . 

Here is my district calendar

This is important because here you will see important dates like days off , testing dates , early release days ,etc. these are things that affect our school day . So, you have to plan accordingly.

Next Google Holidays for the year

Here you will see how you can celebrate everyday of the school year with either official and unofficial holidays. As a teacher this is important to incorporate throughout our lesson plans . You don't want to be known as the teacher that doesn't do any "fun things" in the school year. Parents value holidays because it resembles their schooling experience. Even though times have changed parents do expect to see that holiday project here and there . It also bridges school and community together . 

Print a simple blank calendar with the days. 

I number my weeks one through 42 in the calendar. Is easier for me to remember weeks than actual dates . This helps out for the following year because more or less holidays and school events will fall around the same time .

After you are done labeling your weeks put school wide information and holiday information in the calendar . Now you will have a clear picture of how many days you really have to teach .

3. High Priority / Low Priority

 Planning the school year during summer wouldn't be complete without asking yourself what to tackle first. It's easy to let things rise up to your high priority list especially that first week back . That's why is important to anticipate and get done as many things you know you will be asked to do or want to do the first week back.

A couple of years back I was introduced to the Priority Impact
All the task that come my way get categorized in one of these four squares. 
Matrix Chart . I don't even know if that's the "official name" but if you google it ,Google will know what you are searching for . Basically it's a four square chart that helps you focus and determine what needs to be done first so you can be most effective.

The chart allows you to reconsider task and it's importance by putting it into four different categories ; low priory - low impact , high priory - low impact , high priority - high impact and low

priory- high impact .

When I first saw this , a light bulb shined over my head! Now every time I have a task I try to mentally place it in one of these categories and work from there . It has definitely taught me how to manage the stress and pace of teaching and put things into perspective -what's really important and what can wait . Definitely a tool I highly recommend you master when 
planning the school year during summer. You can read more about it here, here and here

4. Know Your Curriculum

The worst thing that can ever happen is for you to teach a concept that you have never seen . Or worse , standing in front of a group of children and teaching as you are trying to understand it yourself . Improvising at these times is essential but don't get into the habit of doing that . You are human and is impossible to know everything or for something to slip but, it's not an excused not to be prepared. 

This is my number one website for anything related to MAFS and LAFS.

Is a must if planning for the school year during summer to know ahead what you are going to teach . If you are a first year teacher or don't know what you will be teaching this might be hard . But, get familiar with the standards for each grade level. And as soon as you get that job or know your grade level this definitely needs to be in your high priority list . The most important factor in teaching is knowing what you will teach and how to teach it . Just knowing the big topic is not enough . Now with Common Core and the changes done to standards things are different . It varies from state to state but, definitely teaching with these standards have made the profession get an upgrade . If you live in Florida, I highly recommmend to take a look a www.cpalms.org. This is a great website with a wealth of information for any grade level. There are some really nice features the website offers if you sign up. More on that later this month. 

5. Reflect

As one school year ends and another quickly approaches the first things we want to do as teachers is plan or take a break . But, planning for the school year during summer requires you to reflect at the end or at the beginning of summer break. Why? Well because you still have fresh memories of the year. Every year has its ups and down , planning for back to school can be made easier when we focus on issues that make a significant impact in our classrooms. Here are some questions you want to ask yourself:   

What went right ? 

What went wrong ? 

Did it go wrong because it was poorly executed or the whole idea was just bad ?

 If it was poorly executed what are some steps I can make to improve this ? 

What went wrong that I still want to keep but tweak so it can go right ? 

What went right and what made it successful ? 

 What are some new things  I want to bring in the class ?

What are somethings I want to get rid of in my class ?

What ideas or projects made the most impact ? 

What ideas or project just need a complete make over ?

At the end, getting back to school is filled with excitement and a never ending to do list . Sometimes we get it done other times we don't . Don't let back to school craziness be even more crazy ! What are some ways you plan during summer? 

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