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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Back to School Tips

I submitted an entry to with back to school tips, you can access that here. I'd like to thank them for publishing my thoughts and providing such a forum. There are other great entries with great advice to check out on the site. Here is my entry:

After three months off of being in charge of a class I am out shape physically and emotionally. The following make it much easier to transition from summer break to class work. First off my sleeping habits get off in the summer. At least one week before I have to be back in school I make sure I get back on a good sleep schedule. I make sure I go to bed at an appropriate time and get up when I need to. I also make sure that during the day I am up and productive, especially during the time I would normally be at school.

In our district we go back to school one week before the kids do. There a few things I do during this time that I think are vital to being prepared when the students walk in the door. One thing that always gets me the first week is my voice is not in teacher shape. I am not used to the amount of talking I have to do, especially the first week. So I spend time during that first week talking to my colleagues and hearing about their summer and ideas for the new year. This is good for many reasons, but one such is I get to flex my vocal muscles again. It would only do me so much good if I just sat in my room and got used to being back in the building. Engaging with other teachers is a great way to share ideas as well as get that voice back into shape.

On our grading program we are able to see a picture, along with the name, of each student that will be in our class. I read over the names, determine which ones I have heard and which faces look familiar. I look for names that look tricky, and then do my best to memorize each name and face. This is a big undertaking but you can imagine the impact it has on the kids when they walk in the door the first day after summer break and I know who they are. I think from day one it sets up a relationship that shows that I care about them. Invariably there are a few that look completely different from their picture, but that is a nice conversation piece you can have with them.

I know that this is a daunting task, but it is totally worth it. By the end of the first day of school I try to have every name, first and last memorized. Note: this gets harder and harder with each period. 180+ names is tough. It takes me about a week to feel like I have them totally down. A couple of tips. I have an alphabetical seating chart for their first one. It helps me a lot. I also keep the picture listing on my podium so I can refer to it until I have the names/faces down pat. I try to use their names as much as possible so that I have them down and the kids feel that I care. Whether you try to memorize the names or if you don’t have access to pictures I think you should still read the names and get a feel for who is going to be in your class.

I find the more physically and emotionally prepared I am the easier it is to transition from break to work. Hope these help and give you some new ideas for the new year.

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