school_hallway_indiana_public_media19 Tips and Suggestions to Start the School Year off Fresh
This will be my second year teaching in a Dual Language setting. I’m young and ambitious, which can sometimes interfere with my working habits – I get periods of laziness and then I suddenly become a workaholic. To balance the workload and make the best of the school year, I compiled my notes to create a “cheat sheet” to start the school year on the right foot.
1. Work smarter, not harder – Don’t stress writing up your lesson plans because we all know that sometimes, things just don’t go according to plan.
2. Be organized – This means having a system for files, student work, as well as the responsibilities students will have to make transitions smooth i.e. student jobs.
3. Be flexible – In the field, you will need to stay on your toes, so be willing to accept any and all changes that could occur whether they be a new student added to your roster, a grade-level reassignment, and fire drills on the first day; the list can go on.
4. Stick to a schedule – by schedule, I am referring to the act of balancing work and your personal life (i.e. grad school, going to the gym, and spending quality family time).
5. Be positive – Teaching is very overwhelming at times, but you decide to make it the worst day or the best day. Positivity spreads like wildfire and it projects onto your students. Be the motivator that you need to help you through the months.
6. Exercise – one thing I did during my first year of teaching to reduce the high levels of anxiety was to go to the gym often (4 times a week to be precise). I never experienced a headache that year! Although there were days when I arrived at my house exhausted, I woke up the next morning, energized.
7. Explore technology – Whether you like it or not, technology is here to stay and improve. It’s becoming a trend to convert latest electronics into education tools (i.e. SMART Boards, IPads, 3D Printers, and virtual reality headsets).
8. Visit museums and parks – these places are wonderful places to gather ideas for school trips.
9. Talk to people from different professions – It’s always great to get the perspective of someone outside of education. Conversations may spark some differences but they always end with a new teaching philosophy.
10. Make an effort – Education is a wonderful career that lets you make an impact on the lives of the children who will ultimately inherit the very earth you walk on. Therefore, it is crucial that you make an effort to teach your students to be the very best citizens you dream them to be.

Some more suggestions
Below are several more suggestions to keep you going throughout the school year:
1. Student-centered Decorating – Before the school year begins, start thinking about the classroom as a space for your students to show off what they know. Cover the corkboards and frame the areas where you will feature student work. Don’t feel pressured to cover up every space in the room.
2. Read – Keep yourself up to date with the latest educational news by subscribing to blogs and educational articles – more importantly, explore new websites and see what they have to offer which could highly improve your teaching.
3. Work With What You Have – Before your start splurging on “time-reducing” ideas and resources on TeachersPayTeachers, consider all of the resources available to you in your classroom. Think about the resources you used – ones that worked and others that could’ve used some improvement. Otherwise, you’re going to end up throwing out more (if you’re a hoarder) or keep adding to the “I’ll do this eventually” pile.
4. Review the Curriculum – Read through the parts of the curriculum that were confusing to you. By doing so, you can begin to develop ideas to help you improve your execution of the lessons.
5. Make Goals for yourself – Your goals might include ones geared toward the work of your students such as dedicating more time to SSR (sustained silent reading). Your goals might emphasize your work habits.
6. Stick to a System – Don’t work yourself up trying to figure out how to keep yourself organized. With files coming at you from every corner, it’s best to ask someone how they keep records of important data and how they document student learning. Don’t reinvent the wheel as they say. Look for seasoned teachers and ask them what works and what doesn’t. Try some of these paperless ways to track records of student work digitally in this post 
7. Study the Standards – If you’re moving a grade level/ new to the grade level, study up on the common core standards for that grade to really get an understanding of the general expectations from the students.
8. Visit the “Highly Effective” Teacher – In every school building, you’ll hear about that amazing teacher that is almost always highly effective, smart, and nice; someone admin, teachers, and students admire. Go to talk to them! Observe them! Ask them questions! Believe me, they won’t think you’re annoying.
9. Observe the Reading Specialist in Your Building – Reading recovery teachers give the gift of reading and confidence those youngsters that straddle behind so desperately need. You will gain invaluable tips and techniques on the wonders of teaching children to read.

May the new school year begin and may your students soar!

image-150x150Jessenia Morales is currently teaching 3rd grade dual language at Southampton Elementary School. Ironically enough, it is the school that she attended as a child. Traveling is at the core of what inspires her to teach Spanish and English as a second language. When she’s not teaching, she is reading books in French, studying video tutorials for cooking recipes, contributing to TeachersWithApps, maintaining her own cooking blog, hiking, and rigorously “googling” answers to the many questions thrown at me about life! (edit)

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