Happy New Year! Gearing Up for the Start of School
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Mixed emotions are normal when preparing for another school year – even for teachers!  While some teachers are full of excitement thinking about applying different learning from Summer Professional Development, others are nervous of what to expect from the new year, a new group of kids, and new experiences. There are often individuals who experience both reactions.

I remember my first day as a teacher. The professional development, meeting new people, and trying to learn everything I could so my first day with students would be great immediately brought an overwhelming feeling. I felt there was no way to learn everything before my students arrived. I will never forget the advice given to me by a veteran teacher. She said, take one day at a time and you will be just fine. After pondering the advice for some time, I began to realize how many teachers overwhelm themselves with worry, anxiety, and fear of things we have little to no control over.

So, as a new school year begins, let’s focus on a few things you can control - one day at a time.

1.  Set a positive tone. Determine a goal or theme for the year. For example, my first year theme was “Take the “T” out of can’t”. My theme became my goal. All year I focused on changing my students’ feelings of defeat to victories by simple encouraging them to change their vocabulary. No one can determine what you can accomplish but you so, take the “t” out of can’t and show me your “can” attitude.

2. Create classroom expectations and procedures. It is in our very nature to desire a sense of consistency. For example, our heart beats to a constant rhythm. I recommend that you set your procedures in place, but consider having your students determine classroom norms or expectations. Stay away from the term “rules” – because even the most compliant of us sometimes think rules were made to be broken! Do you best to word all expectation in a positive manner.

3. Develop a communication system with parents. For example, determine how you will notify parents of assignments, behavior, important events, etc. Once you determine your system, prepare a welcome letter and inform parents of the system. Beat your students’ possible poor behavior! Make a positive phone call home before they even have a chance of getting a negative call. For many parents, this will be the first positive contact they have ever received from a school.

4. Plan engaging lessons. Study your curriculum, plan your lessons, and seek feedback from colleagues and your students! And remain open to all feedback. Many people view feedback as a negative, but actually it is a tool to drive growth. Sometimes it might be uncomfortable to receive, but make the most out of it. Growing pains aren’t referred to as “pains” for no simple reason.

5. Most importantly, have fun and let your students do the same. If teaching and learning cease to be enjoyable, very little will come of them.

Think about this – ours is one of the only professions lucky enough to celebrate a Happy New Year twice a year! So, let’s make the most of it. How do you like to celebrate the start of the new school year?  Contact me at alethea@thrivingleaders.co and follow us on FB and Twitter @thrivinglc

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