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Your Summer Planning Essentials

TeacherVision Advisory Board Member, Jeanne, outlines summer planning essentials, and shares her tips for what you need to start planning over the summer, and what can wait until school starts.

Published: June 17, 2019

A math teacher in her classroom

So. You’re hired. You know what content(s) and grade level(s) you’re teaching, and all you want to do is get started with planning. But what should you start with? And how much should you do before meeting with colleagues or meeting your kids?

You are right to be wary of planning too much before getting acquainted with your kids, and especially right if you haven’t had a chance to talk to anyone about curriculum or guidelines you’ll be expected to follow. Let’s talk about what is smart to start planning over the summer--and what is smarter to wait on.

First, Do Your Homework

Talk to your principal and ask what curriculum and/or standards you’ll be expected to follow, as well as any behavior or discipline policies you’ll be expected to enforce. While they’ll likely have information on discipline, they may not have detailed information on curriculum, in which case ask for contact information of a department chair or teacher counterpart that you can ask. The last thing you want to do is write your curriculum this summer only to find out you have to throw it all out. 

Develop Your Classroom Management Plan

While you’re waiting for answers, focus on planning your classroom management plan. In the summer before your first year, classroom management is incredibly important.  It’s the key to keeping your sanity intact while having the freedom to do all the awesome, life-changing lessons you’ve been dreaming about this year. And it will save you a lot of stress down the road. 

Your classroom management plan should have plans for things like procedures (How should students sharpen their pencil? Ask to go to the bathroom? Turn in their homework?), routines (what will happen in a typical class period?), discipline plan (what are the non-negotiable rules? What happens if kids break them?), policies (do you accept late work? What about tardies?), your family communication systems (how will you contact home, and how often?), and rewards and incentives (how will you celebrate and reward awesome work?). Feeling lost? Check out TeacherVision’s video series on classroom management. You will also find helpful tips and strategies in our e-book, 5 Tips To Master Classroom Management. 

Plan your Year Overview

While it’s not very useful to plan your entire year day-by-day before meeting and getting to know your students (thank goodness because how overwhelming would that be?), having a solid curriculum overview for your year can save you a lot of head-aches down the road. Many districts provide this for you, but if they don’t, they aren’t too complicated to put together:

  1. Just sit down, pull out your school calendar and any other information you have about what you’re expected to teach. 
  2. Count the days/weeks you’ll have students during the year. 
  3. Then list out all of your standards or learning objectives in a spreadsheet.
  4. Start brainstorming units that can cover those standards along the top. 
  5. Then, mark which standards you’ll cover in each unit. 
  6. Estimate the number of weeks you’ll need for each unit
  7. Cross-check that with the days you’ll have students

...and voila, you have a year overview!

Plan your First Two Weeks

After you’ve established what your first unit will be as well as your classroom management plan, you’ve got yourself a list of things to teach during your first two weeks. While I don’t recommend planning anything in detail much farther out than two weeks, having two weeks of plans to help you get to know your students, teach your classroom management plan, and pre-assess their skills will be very useful. 

Plan your Classroom—and Keep it Simple

I’m here to let you off the hook. Here’s the deal: your students kids are going to love you and learn a ton this year because of you and your incredible lesson plans, not because of your polka-dot classroom theme. Besides, wouldn’t it be awesome to have them help you design and decorate your classroom over the first couple weeks? And it’s a great way to get to know your students.

So while all of those Pinterest-perfect classroom set-ups are tempting, let them go this year--especially if you’re in your first few years. Concentrate on thinking about where students will sit, how they’ll move about the room, how your paper flow will work, and what you need on your walls to have a functional classroom, as well as finding killer deals on school supplies (you will literally never have enough pencils for the rest of your life). Leave the rest of the classroom decorating for students to make their own.

And that’s it! That’s what I recommend planning before you begin. The more you can make 4 things solid, the stronger your foundation will be for an amazing year this year. Try your best to let go of the rest--you’ll have plenty of time this year to continue to make your classroom your own. For now, focus on the most important, and give yourself plenty of rest. You’re going to be great. 

How are you planning for the school year this summer? Share with us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.

Jeanne Wolz taught middle school Writing and AVID in Illinois for four years in addition to serving as the English Department Chair. She holds a bachelor’s in English and Secondary Education and a master’s in Curriculum and Instruction. Currently, she teaches ESL, develops curriculum, and coaches new teachers. You can find more of her resources at www.teacheroffduty.com and follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

 

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