10 ways to prepare for the new academic session – Part 1

We all love summer holidays, but it must come to an end. Somewhere in the midst of it all, you have to think about the new session. Yes! It will soon be the ‘back to school’ season. So it is best not to leave things to the last minute. There are a few quotes about preparation that help put things into perspective. Here are my favourites:
“It is not the will to win that matters. Everyone has that. It is the will to prepare to win that matters.” Paul B. Bryant
“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” Alexander G. Bell
How do you prepare for your new session?
1. Gather information.
The first thing to get the ball rolling for you is to find out as much as you can about the children that you are going to be teaching. This is your starting point. Speak to the teacher who taught them all year; you will be amazed at the wealth of information that you can gather which will save you a lot of time and headache! Find out what the children are like as a cohort, what are their assessment results, what are their behaviour patterns, how much parental support do they get, is the class girl-heavy or boy-heavy etc. I recommend that you gather as much information as you can before you start preparing anything else. I am aware that some schools do not do a formal or informal handover because they want children to start on a new slate each academic year. I think that is just absurd and plain wrong! Educating a child is a journey; there should be continuity from one teacher to the next. A previous teacher may have negative opinions about a class, that does not mean that the next teacher would hold the same views.
A handover should be a professional, non-judgemental discussion about children and their learning behaviours. To aid this vital discussion, I created this FREE document earlier. Do download and use this for your handover meetings or discussions. You will thank me for it!

Teacher Handover Booklet
2. Create long term plans
Have an overview! Get a diary! This will keep you organised. When you know the cohort, you are going to be teaching, this will help you plan your schemes, books, themes and so on to engage the children. Plan key dates and events so nothing catches you unawares.
3. Plan and set up your classroom
Think carefully about your seating arrangement and organise where things will be located within the space you have. Effective classrooms are set up to encourage independence. The children should not be reliant on you for everything they need for the lesson. Create trays and label them. This also helps you stay organised!
4. Decorate
Decorate your class. Think about the children you are getting. Decorate with them in mind. I once worked in a school where each teacher could repaint their class at the beginning of every new session. I remember I always used ‘magnolia’ as a base because it was looked fresh and light! Furthermore, your class displays must reflect the children you have. For example, if you have a class that love football, you can use football themed display so that the children have a sense of belonging. Remember, the displays are for the children, not you, the teacher.
5. Plan for the first day and first week back.
One year, on the first day, I had prepared a letter for each parent, so at the end of the day, each child went home with the letter. They came back to school the next day fully aware of my expectations and the parents ready to support. First impressions matter, so ensure that the children enjoy their first day with you, they should get an idea of what to expect for the rest of the year. Plan and prepare for it. There are lots of great ideas to use for the first day back. Try to do something different and engaging. Watch this space for more ideas.

To be continued…

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