Beginning A New School Year
It’s that time of year again. You have loads of energy and you want to do everything now, but you don’t know where to start?
Well, start by taking a breather! Make sure you have had some time to yourself. Take some time away from school to think about and do things that are not school-related. The first term of school is hard work (not that the rest are any different), and if you don’t have a break over the summer you will have no energy to get to Halloween. Some people like to get organised at the start of the summer holidays and then switch off. Others still like to forget everything until getting organised a week, or two at most, before going back to school, some people (like me) like to tip away at small bits and pieces at their leisure over the holidays. Regardless of your preference, make sure it’s not all work for the whole summer!
So when it is time to get down to business here are my top pieces of advice:
Organise your classroom
Think about the layout of your room – how do you want it to work for you? – and arrange your furniture accordingly; I like the desks to be in groups with colour signs above them, my desk at the front beside the whiteboard and a chair or stool on the other side of the whiteboard to sit on while teaching.
Only when you know what you have to work with can you effectively begin planning. And with this, I would definitely recommend being the tortoise as opposed to the hare!
When you have your room set up you can plan for the children in your class by way of making their desk name tags, coat hook tags, etc. It might be no harm to do a seating plan so things are nice and organised on the first day, keeping in mind that as you may not know the children yet some may need to be moved. If there is a practice of passing on information from teacher to teacher in your school, try to read up on any notes that you may be given about the children who will be in your class – this will help you to get a head start on any behavioural issues, academic strengths or weaknesses or any social/health issues that that you may have to deal with. I would recommend lots of games and activities to help you get to know the children, and them each other, in the first few days – play games, read them stories, tell them about yourself, do some art etc. You may also find it useful to include some basic curricular lessons for the first week to help you get to know the children’s level. Plan some activities that are revision, activities based on the material they would have covered last year. This will help you find the level at which you need to base your fortnightly/weekly plans (you may like to begin thinking about some yearly/fortnightly plans but try not to go too far ahead). If you’re only starting in your school in September, they may already have plans in place and, of course, you don’t know the children yet so you may plan at the wrong level for your class. If you are having Junior Infants in September you might find The First Day of Infants post useful.
Everyone uses their displays differently. Some teachers like to display mostly children’s work. Others like to use displays as working walls, populating them with material as they go according to both what they are teaching at the time and the needs of the class. Keep in mind that some schools may have a policy on displays so be sure to check this first!
While no displays are wrong, I like to have informative displays in my classroom which aid the children’s learning. During the summer holidays, I like to back my display boards so they are nice and fresh for the coming year – let’s be honest, who doesn’t love fresh displays?
When they are all ready to go I will look at my first topic for the core subjects and SESE and I will make a display reflecting the main material in each subject that will be covered over the first month, or maybe even the first half term.
I also have a ‘work to bee proud of’ display where I display the star work each week. Other work (such as art work, writing etc.) presented will be displayed on the walls, windows or on the display boards in the corridor.
In my opinion, you will never get everything done over the summer! I suggest you take the time to get organised enough to get effectively through the first week-plus and to worry about the rest in September. Above all, remember to relax – you will have way more energy for the new term if you do!
Enjoy your summer!