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Break Time’s Over! Are You Ready for the New School Year?

They say that every profession yields its own merits and concerns. Although some adhere to a strict albeit fixated working schedule, there are others that do not follow suite. It would be inconceivable to even suggest that an educator’s occupation is limited to his presence in class. Hours upon hours of preparation, conducting research, attending seminars, evaluation of students’ assignments, are a constant; all of which take place during our own personal time.

By Kathrine Reilly

Regardless, one would say that educators enjoy a hardy, well-earned summer break during which they set all concerns aside. Although this notion is partially true, it would be strategically unsound not to properly prepare yourself for the challenges and turmoil that we are called upon to face in September.
Sounds intimidating? Fear not bedraggled colleague! While you may be tempted to stick your head in the sand, transitioning to the new year requires nothing but a few simple and, in many cases, enjoyable tasks to alleviate the anxiety of reintegration.

Self-Evaluation and Personal Growth

Before starting the new school year, ask yourself: “What would I change as regards my teaching methods?” Experienced professionals in the field hold self-evaluation as the means to setting and achieving new goals. Integrating the latest approaches and methods, while discarding tried and inefficient ones comes hand to hand with teaching. Our occupation is one which is constantly evolving, thus the same must be said for our own person.

Attending conferences, expanding our knowledge, even the simple but vital exchange of ideas with colleagues will open our eyes to unique perspectives, while at the same time, reinvigorate our love for the profession which defines us. Accumulating knowledge at any point in our careers is not only rejuvenating, but essential to adapting to the ever-evolving demands of the society we live in.

Setting New Goals

The next question that pops to mind is, “What goals should I set this year?” It’s important to designate specific, realizable goals at the beginning of the school year. Reflect on and celebrate last year’s accomplishments, while focusing on what you would like to achieve next. As for how to do it? Avoid goals that seem out of reach and are time-wise detrimental to your other professional obligations. Many a time, we let our enthusiasm get the best of us and before we know it, find ourselves way in over our heads. A strategic approach is to focus on one goal at a time. This proves way more manageable, less stressful and the sense of satisfaction we gain after successfully achieving it is worthwhile.

Build Classroom Routines and Relationships

Regardless of the target age, each class will most certainly benefit from a specific routine, not one which will dominate the syllabus mind you, rather a specific sequence of actions which will serve as a guideline for all parties involved. Greeting one another at the start of the lesson and then correcting homework are common procedures in most educational environments. This is usually followed by the delivery of new material students are obligated to assess and comprehend. A routine, however, can be established in many colorful ways, rendering a happy and motivational environment in which a student can flourish and learn.

How does an educator greet one’s students upon entering class? Do we devote sufficient time to establishing a personal, respectful connection? Are our students aware that we are genuinely devoted and concerned about their well-being? If a student feels confident, safe and most importantly happy when attending our lessons, then he will wholeheartedly become invested in them. A routine such as a greeting can become so much more by adding a distinctive flavor to it. Have you tried lining them up and welcoming them to class individually? Most teachers around the globe have adopted specific handshakes, rapport or even dance moves when welcoming their kids to class.
Reading time can also be rendered in such a way that a student will anxiously look forward to it. Start off the school year by having them role play different stories. Let them experiment with intonation. Let them have fun. This experience can be repeated, leading to a pleasant routine throughout the school year.

Organization is Key

It’s quite easy to get swamped during the school year as the responsibilities keep piling up. It would be best to use a calendar to keep track of every task at hand. Use color notes to make it more pleasant to the eye. Assign said colors to different classes. This method of color coding is proven to alleviate stress and focuses our attention on tasks that require our immediate attention, without having to debate with ourselves on where to begin.

Designate specific hours for correction and preparation at home. Personal time is of equal, if not greater importance to us all, as we mustn’t overdo it and find the time to re-energize. This is essential not only to preserving an optimal presence in class, but for our personal welfare, one which most educators tend to neglect.
Speaking of neglect, a school holiday is exactly that; a holiday. Upon presented with the opportunity to catch our breath, we must take advantage of it. Burning ourselves out during the school year is of no benefit to anyone. Our minds process enormous amounts of information and they need to take a break at each opportunity they get. Make the most of each holiday and get some rest.

Hype yourself up!

It’s the beginning of another school year! Familiar faces, new acquaintances, numerous opportunities for creativity, watching your kids blossom and reaching their true potential; there are so many wonderful things to look forward to. Start off the year with a deep breath, a huge smile and most importantly, enjoy the ride. •