Back to school was always my favorite time of year. A clean slate and a chance to get reorganized. A new group of kids excited to learn new content and participate in all of the fun, hands-on projects you’re known for incorporating into the curriculum. New supplies and teacher planner.
You can start planning for back to school over the summer without it consuming all of your time off. Your future self will thank you!
TIP 1 | Organize Your Resources
For a long time, I only kept my teaching resources digitally. Then once I moved to a school where we had a secretary who did all of the copying for us, it made more sense to keep master copies in binders. I was able to pull resources for copies quickly and didn’t waste a ton of time searching through large files hoping to find that one activity for ecosystems.
QUICK TIP – A way to make sure that you always get your master copy back in the binder is to mark it with a highlighter. The highlighter won’t show on the copies.
I organized my copies in binders by subject and unit. To keep everything in order, I made binder covers and spines so I’d know what’s inside without pulling every binder out.
TIP 2 | Map Out Your Curriculum For the Year
Curriculum mapping or creating a pacing guide was always my favorite thing to do over the summer. Throughout the year, I’d make notes in my planner for something that I’d like to change, try, or keep the following year. This helped me reflect and plan each year to improve my teaching and get some big picture planning done.
A curriculum map isn’t meant to be a set in stone plan for the year, but rather a guide to help you pace out how long you’re able to spend on each unit of study to get it all in by the end of the year (or testing season). Some districts already have them created, but usually, there’s so much information included on the curriculum map that it’s overwhelming instead of helpful. You can use a curriculum map template to help you break down the pacing guide into manageable content.
TIP 3 | Utilize Calendars
Once the events, assemblies, meetings, student birthdays, etc. started rolling in, I’d pull out my monthly calendars and transfer the content over. I’m the type of person who needs to look at things on a calendar, not just on a typed up list of dates.
I used my monthly calendars to update my class website and let parents know about upcoming events in our class newsletter. At the end of the year, when there were too many things to keep track of – testing dates, assemblies, graduation practice, class picnic, etc. – I’d use the one-page calendar to share everything with parents. They always appreciated being able to see the dates laid out rather than listed.
TIP 4 | Find a Way to Plan Weekly That Works Best For You
Weekly planning was always a Sunday thing for me when I had to plan on my own. Once I had a team of teachers to work with, we planned together every Wednesday morning during our PLT and sometimes during our prep period. I preferred to handwrite my plans, so I used printed weekly planning pages.
If I were to go back into the classroom now, I’d probably use Google Slides™ to plan digitally because these days, I seem to misplace everything. (Mom brain.)
TIP 5 | Create a Teacher Planner or Binder to Keep It All Together
If you’re anything like me, you want one place to keep things. The simpler, the better. I started creating my own teacher planner in 2012 because I wasn’t a fan of spending $50+ for a beautiful planner that I could not fully utilize for the cost.
I love customizing all the pages, like adding my subjects or schedule times on the weekly planning pages before printing. Adding extras like emergency plans, student ID numbers, and transportation lists was a huge bonus, too!
I like binding my planner together with the discbound system, but binders work, too. And now, with all the capabilities with Google Slides™, I’d even be happy planning digitally if I were in the classroom right now.
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