Taking Care At the Start of the School Year

I have many thoughts as the school year begins, things to be done, lessons floating around my mind, and now that I am starting year 5- I tend to reflect on the past.

The web has been saturated with snarky emo tween posts about teachers and school. I’ve also seen motivational You-Will-survive-this-year-chin-up quotes and saying as well. I have fond most of them overly sugary. This however:

is on point. Picture yourself at your own place of work. Imagine returning after a week or two of vacation. Now visualize what would happen if you returned unprepared to do the work, willing to work yes, but without the tools or projects you need to turn in or have. Would your coworkers thank you? Could your boss overlook this lapse as you struggle to get things together?

Teachers get 1 week (usually 4 days) to get everything together. Now take off on full day for your county kick off staff meeting where 1,000+ people are packed into an auditorium awaiting Board of Ed wisdom and hype. Then a half day for an at school welcome back meeting with the principal and other staff.

So you have 2 days to clean (yes our janitors mop, wax, clean windows during the summer. They do not dust, wipe out cabinets, scrub down desks, clean whiteboards, or other classroom furniture. They also just pile everything in the middle of the room when they are done because they don’t remember the layout. Why should they? It’s not their job). You have those same 2 days to arrange, file, photocopy, gather technology, reassemble and of course, turn in lessons.

Most teachers, we take the summer to either completely flesh out a semester outline with everything they’ll do (power to you); or they’ll get a rough outline, organize ideas, create a couple of weeks of lessons, and so on.

Now picture a child going to school, to a classroom where someone has only done the bare minimum, the classroom is beautiful and so is the teacher. Except the teacher is flying by the seat of their pants. No idea about the schedule, lessons not fully formed, just thrown together, classroom rules ambiguous, classroom management…

Do you see it?

No imagine those same kids going to their next class, walking down the hall, in the classroom.

I hope you are imagining utter chaos cause, that’s what would happen.

You know when you were young, peers took advantage of any soul that seemed less than iron clad in the classroom? That unpreparedness, lack of consistency leeches throughout the school.

Think of it like sugar. You give the kids sugar, a lot of sugar. What is going to happen to these kids? First they will be hyper psychopaths. Then they will crash and they will crash hard.

Unprepared educators are like sugary treats. Let’s take it a step further: what if their diet consisted of sugary treats in excess everyday? What would happen?

They would have an unbalanced diet to say the least.

At the same time, let’s say you’ve done all the proper things, everything is planned to the letter, and you’ve spent the summer Working and not taking time to recharge. You go hard all first 9 weeks, overworking, overextending.

Then you start getting sick, weak, tired and not at your best. You are absent for being sick or worse, hospitalized.

Where will everyone be then? Substitutes in in your classroom. Less learning happening and right before benchmarks…. Classroom in shambles…

Believe me, no one will thank you.

So what to do? If you aren’t prepared and it’s the week before school, don’t freak. Take your county’s, State’s, school’s curriculum maps and pacing guides and take an hour to make an outline. Remember if it’s the very beginning of the year you need to spend a month teaching and reinforcing your rules and procedures. That alone can take up quite a bit of time everyday. Once you outline, tackle what you need to teach, what standard need to be taught the first month? Before you know it, you’ll have a pretty sweet outline (that won’t give anyone else cavities!). On the weekends, take time to plan two weeks at a time and of course prepare to change the second plan, depending on students needs.

Most importantly, make time for you. Use the bathroom when you need to, take ten minutes of your planning to center yourself before you work. Don’t neglect your health or sanity! Don’t over work yourself,while your students obviously benefit from what you have to teach them, a burnt out teacher by Christmas is useless.

So please, take care as you start out your school year!

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