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The Teacher, the Classroom, the Material and the PeopleJune 30th, 2015
Between that second job, professional development, a personal project and family time a teacher’s summer is not the ‘holiday’ many imagine it to be. The holiday may seem long and the new term far off, but the truth is that wise teachers begin to prepare for the next year as soon as the last one has ended. The first step is to realistically assess how much actual time is available and divide it up accordingly. Depending on individual working styles, these may be tackled separately in chunks or simultaneously. The four areas below may be subdivided and emphasis depends on the individual.
The Teacher Themselves
Test your strengths and weaknesses then examine how strengths can be capitalised upon: guest blogs, workshops, written guides for other teachers. All these things will boost confidence and improve a CV. Tackle the top two weaknesses and make plans for any other areas of growth later in the year. Get fit. Be healthy and have fun. Actively rehearse the first few lessons.
Discipline and Decoration
The classroom is the seat of a teacher’s power! Most of the displays for the rest of the year can be constructed over the summer. Work out how to get the students to do as much of this as possible! Abundant supplies and a new room lay-out will also do a lot for student morale. Depending on the actual subject there may be room to highlight individuals from history. Review the visual landscape to ensure that it includes images that reflect social diversity both globally and in terms of local population and cultures. Plan your strategies for difficult characters or situations – and check these against the school’s regulations. Not every school will be keen on rhythmic clapping exercises first thing!
Given that the first few weeks are so busy, the general guide is to over-plan as much as possible. The curriculum should be timed out over the whole year, for pacing, but if, while doing that, you have a good idea, catch it there and then. There is no such thing as too many lesson plans. However, a magic memory stick should also be filled with extra activities – material that can be delivered if you are sick or the school day is otherwise disrupted, as well as extra activities for particularly keen students.
Learning names is the least of it. You may or may not know what the children are like or what challenges the parents may present – but you can still prepare for a number of these eventualities. There may be children or parents with short or long-term health issues, children who come from different cultures or children with a different mother tongue. All these present opportunities for the entire class to broaden compassion and culture if handled in the right way. Finally, make sure that you have attended all staff functions and taken time to get to know the school personnel. They will be a valuable support network when back-to-school comes around.