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Preparing for Next School Year

May 12, 2016 3 min read

Preparing for Next School Year

May 12, 2016 3 min read

Yes, you read that right. It’s time to start thinking about next year. It’s really quite hard to believe that the end of the year has either already come and gone for you or is just a few short weeks away. For me, this year has flown by faster than any other.

These are just some small changes, but each year you can always improve on simple ways to make your classroom run more efficiently!
One of my favorite things to do at the end of the year is prepare a checklist for the next school year. What can I do better? How can I make my classroom run more smoothly and more efficiently? How might I decorate my classroom next year? And what about a new seating arrangement? I like to think about these things now and make a checklist because all of the changes are fresh in my mind! If I wait until August, I’ll forget everything I wanted to do better.

I’ve included my list below from last year of some of the changes I wrote down for the next year:

  • Include daily CCSS on a whiteboard or bulletin board for students to see. (Assign a student to change this daily.)
  • Get a BIG table for the front of the room to put copies, books, document camera, collect tests, etc. (This has been a huge help for me in my classroom! I’ll share pictures once we get back to school.)
  • Set up classroom library for students – look for chairs, cushions, carpets at garage sales. You can see last year’s classroom library HERE, and I already have ideas for this year (can’t wait to get into my classroom!).
  • Put some sort of marker on the floor where desks should go (if you have carpet, you could use Sit Spots!).
  • Set up a small space at the back of the room with Kleenex, handwipes, hand sanitizer, and a garbage can (this prevents students from walking to the front of the classroom in the middle of a lesson).
I also love to make sure I’m incredibly organized for the school year in terms of keeping track of student behavior and communications with parents. I’ve used Class Dojo in the past, but it wasn’t all that effective. I’ve also used other individual reward systems and papers to track communications with parents and student discipline, but nothing ever really worked.
So we created a Student Behavior & Parent Communications Tracker. It’s basically a binder that keeps track of everything. We created logs for keeping track of short-term and long-term discipline of students, individual student behavior logs, parent communications logs (to keep track of phone calls, emails, meetings, etc.), and parent-teacher conference logs. This tracker has been an incredible resource for us! If you’re interested in using this in your own classroom, you can grab it here.

In order to kick the year off right, I like to prepare assessment tools to utilize at the beginning of the year so I can get a decent snapshot of where students stand in particular subjects. I think this is super important to do within the first week or two! Having pre-assessment data can help guide your instruction better than anything else.

One resource in particular that I like to use, is an essay pre-assessment tool (yes, English teacher over here!). It’s a pretty straightforward assessment if students have a good grasp of essay writing. If they don’t, I’ll know right away. I like to have students complete this pre-assessment the Friday on the first week of school. That way, I can bring their assessments home with me over the weekend and start preparing for where we’re going to begin our year together with writing.

It’s pretty easy to create your own pre-assessment. Just use an essay that you’ve written and ask students to identify the main parts of an essay. You can also ask about tone, author’s purpose, etc. If you don’t feel like creating your own, you can grab the one I use by signing up for our newsletter HERE (you’ll get an email with the resource as a download). I’ve included an answer key as well, so it’s just a print-and-go resource for ya!

What are some things you’ll be changing for next school year?

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Hi there! We're two middle school ELA teachers with a mission to share ideas, tips, and tricks for effectively teaching reading and writing in the secondary classroom. We're so happy you stopped by!

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