August 25, 2017

Back to Basics – Teacher Prep for the Upcoming School Year

The difference between July 31 and August 1 is vast.

Teacher dreams began after a 1 month hiatus.

All the teaching materials, techniques, systems, technology tools I intended to digest during the summer…still no progress on those.

Of course, school supplies were in stores starting on July 5, but I hadn’t noticed in my long summer of re-reading Outlander and Gillian Flynn books, drinking fun cocktails and sleeping late.

School starts in August. Oh no.

Stuff’s about to get real, and I didn’t want it to hit the fan on the way.

After teaching for about 5 years, I didn’t worry so much about content, per se. I had demonstrated to myself that I could write a great unit or lesson plan, and I could be flexible enough to change things that didn’t work. But for each of my 11 years, I had to perform the “I’m your new teacher and I’m so great!” tap dance for a brand new set of students (3 sections of 45) who were starting 9th grade feeling anywhere from terrified to overconfident. Shortly after that, I got to perform only a slightly different version of that tap dance for Parent Night, preparing to be scrutinized, tested, and judged. These things are what scared me, and I bet they scare some of you, too.

I didn’t sleep well or much the whole week before school, and I told myself that I had ALL THE THINGS to do…room decorating, setting up my grade book, reading through IEPs…so I did those things. It didn’t make me feel much better – more like spinning my wheels. You know the drill. But here’s the deal. I totally had it in the bag, and you’ve got this, too. You just have to remember why you became a teacher, along with some very basic things: relationships, kindness, and love. These things transcend ALL THE THINGS, and they dictate what your students see every day.

There’s no need to get all unhinged about the things you DIDN’T do to prepare for this year (I mean, you certainly still can if you want to, and I hope it’s productive for you. It wasn’t for me). The little, or slightly bigger than little people in front of you want you to care. That’s all. And you do, because you are a teacher. You may not have updated your version of Safari on your computer, and you still aren’t super great at a document reader, but you care. Teaching is filled with all sorts of tasks that detract from the heart of what matters in our interactions with students. All the paperwork, the rationalization, the justification: it’s not going to go away, and it’s not going to get better through the year. That’s a really stinky part of the job, and you’ll never hear me say that stuff doesn’t matter, because it does (to someone).

Unfortunately, that’s what we have to do. It has to change, and it has to change yesterday, but it won’t, yet. And it’s going to suck the energy from you and it will make you hate what you do sometimes. But you needn’t fear this upcoming year. My suggestion is this: Take 30 minutes out of your day sometime in August (seriously – set a timer for yourself to help you feel accountable), and write, talk with a friend, or illustrate your story of why you became a teacher (check out the Identify Your Why worksheet that we’ve made for you!). Include a story of a student who persevered, a time when you felt magic in the room, and when you all laughed as a class at something ridiculous. Touch on one tough moment, and then the resolution of that moment. Consider a difficult parent, and then remember the rock star parents that just wanted to say thank you. Remember the quiet kid who only shared her thoughts on occasion, and the boisterous kids who loved telling you about their weekend. Wonder about a kid’s reaction when they saw you outside of school, living your life. Think about the thank you’s, the high five’s, the one-on-ones, the lightbulbs, the heartbreaks. This may be some of the most important teacher prep you do for the upcoming school year. 

As you reflect, allow yourself to be reminded that you do this because you love kids and you believe in the future. And when you face them this fall, you will show this, because it’s who you are.

After all, you are a teacher.

And you’re gonna have a great year.

Learners Edge is passionately committed to providing you with continuing education coursework, materials, and tools that will help you succeed in your classroom and in your career.

Offering more than 100 print-based or online courses for teachers, you can earn the graduate credit you need for salary advancement and meet your professional development needs. Contact us today to get started!


Search the K12 Hub

More From Teaching Channel

Brunette teacher with face in hands sitting at desk
10 Tips to Reduce Overthinking

Teaching is a rewarding profession that allows educators to shape the minds of the next generation. However, it can be a challenging job that requires

Want to partner with us?

We’re always looking for new authors! If you’re interested in writing an article, please get in touch with us.

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Get notified of new content added to K12 Hub.

Great News! Learners Edge, Insight ADVANCE and Teaching Channel are now under one umbrella. Learn More

Welcome to the Education Evolution

Learners Edge and Insight Advance have merged with Teaching Channel to become your single source for graduate-level courses, professional development, video coaching, plus lots of free resources—all in one place.

Teaching Channel logo