I wrote this article for Newsela’s blog. You can read the article on their site, linked here!
Few roles have the cyclical nature that teaching does. While we may look forward to the summer (especially those last two weeks of schoolâ€¦. woof), thereâ€™s something so exciting about getting a fresh start in the fall.
To ease the transition, Iâ€™ve compiled some tips for new and veteran teachers alike to make sure all tâ€™s are crossed and iâ€™s are dotted. Even if youâ€™ve already started back (looking at you, charter school teachers!), these tips are great for the first few weeks of school.
#1) Get them digits!
You will inevitably need to call home for your kiddos. Hopefully you can make as many positive deposits before making a negative â€œwithdrawal.â€ When I taught, I kept a Google Sheet tracker so I could tally each positive and negative contact. I tried to do 5-1 to ensure I was winning parentsâ€™ trust!
To make getting a hold of parents as easy as possible, here are a few tips:
- If your school uses a management system likeÂ DeansList, you can use their iPhone app to automatically have all parentsâ€™ numbers are your fingertips!
- If youâ€™re on your own to get numbers, create a Google Form that students/families can fill out so youâ€™ll have a neat spreadsheet. With this spreadsheet, you can import the numbers into your phone quickly! There are a few ways to do this, but thisÂ web tutorial is how I did it!
#2) Have a DonorsChoose (or three) in the Works!
Humblebrag: I have raised more than $25,000 in grants for my kiddos! This wasnâ€™t magic. I just post a lot ofÂ DonorsChoose.Â The beginning of the school year is a really smart time to do this. Donors know teachers are in need, and companies like Google will often â€œflash fundâ€ all projects in a given area (e.g. all of Boston).
Post a few projects. The worst-case scenario is that it doesnâ€™t get funded, but you also might magically wake up to all of your projects being funded!
#3) Bake Personalized Learning into Your Lesson/Unit Plans!
Every teacher wants to reach every student and make a difference in their lives. But when itâ€™s â€œDarktoberâ€ and youâ€™re trying to just get through the day, it can be hard to do this. So, pre-plan personalization now, when you are more energized and the days are longer.
That could look like:
- Setting goals for your blended learning programs (like, ahem, having each student complete 3 Newsela quizzes a week),
- Building in 1:1 check-ins with each student where you set and assess goal progress, or
- Adding personalized work time into your class where students can complete work that is customized to their current performance level.
Have any other tips you follow religiously as a new year starts? Drop your knowledge below, in the comments!