Now the term has ended and you are all well into your much-deserved summer holidays, it can be so tempting to put school completely out of our minds. It is so important to switch off during your down time so that you can recharge after a year of working so hard, especially given how many extras hours you spend supporting and advising your students. The summer really is a great opportunity to relax, travel, catch up with friends and family and indulge in some well-earned ‘me-time’. But (and don’t hate us), it is also super useful to take some time out to prep for the year ahead. Before you start rolling your eyes, bear with us for a moment. We know you need time off and if you are reading this from a sun-lounger in paradise somewhere, we know this might be the last thing you want to talk about, but all experienced teachers agree; the more you prepare, the less stressful back to school will be.
The start of term might seem like a million miles away, but it can spring up far too quickly when you are having fun. To help you avoid the rush and accommodate the inevitable tussle of incoming students, we have put together some useful tips to help you prepare for the next academic year (none of which should eat into your summer relaxing too much!).
An easy start
Think about your upcoming curriculum and what the focus will be for your students. If you are an English teacher or an Early Years teacher, why not spend some of your summer reading the books you have set? Revisiting them or even getting a head start on new ones will help you mirror the experience your students will soon have and, perhaps, give you some ideas on how to engage them with the material. Early Years teachers who can read some new children’s books or spend some time watch children’s TV, will help give you current frames of reference that could be useful in the classroom. Other teachers who can give themselves a head start on the topics that interest their grade could also find this useful when helping students learn in different ways. By being able to make relevant comparisons or draw from experiences they will recognise, you can make the material more relatable and therefore more retainable.
Decorate with purpose
When it comes to your classroom, you want to make sure it is a place that is both welcoming and a good facilitator for learning. Whatever your subject or age range of students, you may choose to accessorise or decorate it in a specific way. The summer is great time to think about whether it needs an update, what new things you could add and evaluate what has worked well, and not so well, in the past. If you feel like visual aids could be helpful to your students, consider taking some time to prepare these in advance so that they are ready on the first day and so that you don’t have to find extra hours in the day during a hectic school term.
Familiarise yourself with what’s to come
It might sound obvious but taking a bit of time to read the upcoming syllabus could pay dividends; especially if you are changing schools or examination boards. By familiarising yourself with your syllabus or curriculum, you can identify new additions that you might need to plan for, note when assessment days are coming and, depending on your subject, make choices that are appropriate for your students.
Get ahead of stress
While you are enjoying your chance to disconnect and even forget some of the stresses of the year, it actually might be well worthwhile revisiting some of the more stressful moments. Have a think about what caused you the most stress in the previous terms? Is it something you can fix or prevent? Did you find yourself getting overloaded with paperwork, grading papers or meetings? Is there a way in which you could better structure your time or delegate work to prevent this happening again? Teacher’s roles are so important, it is essential that you find ways to maximise the most crucial parts of your job and not get waylaid by the mundane. You might also consider planning out as much of week one as possible, even if it doesn’t go completely to plan, just so that you have a buffer to help in the craziness of back to school.
Consider your professional development
You are probably very used to taking care of your students and helping them decide what to do, but do you spend enough time thinking about your own career and future. The holidays are a great time to think about what options you have in your field and what opportunities you might want to take advantage of. Perhaps you have been keen to pursue a specific training course or module that could expand your skill set? Maybe you think it might be time to look at a leadership role within your institution? Whatever your goals might be, make sure you take the time to check in with your progress and see if there is something that you could get excited about.
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