Are you a new teacher about to start on your teaching journey? This post will go into my best advice for what to do during the summer before your new job begins.
Start with Your Curriculum
My first piece of advice for new teachers just starting out would be to ask to see the curriculum you will be using. The reason you’ll want to start with the curriculum is that it will help inform your classroom systems.
When asking to see the curriculum (and hopefully take home the teachers’ manuals) is to also ask your admin what their expectations are regarding curriculum. Some admin will need you to strictly stick with the curriculum where others are more flexible.
If you have your heart set on doing literacy centers but need to follow the curriculum, will they still work? Looking over the manuals will help address some of these questions as most curriculums build in differentiation and have activities or worksheets that can be adapted for centers.
Create a Solid Classroom Management Plan
Once you know the curriculum you need to teach your next step is to figure out your classroom management plan. My teaching program required me to create a plan for a class assignment and I was glad they did. If your teaching program did not, then you’ll want to spend time this summer thinking through your classroom management system.
I could probably spend many blog posts diving into how to create your classroom management plan as there are so many things to consider. One of my favorite books for starting out is The First Days of School by Harry Wong. If you’re not familiar with this book, you should be as Harry Wong goes into lots of detail on all the things to think about to have a smooth running classroom.
Think About Your Classroom Systems
Part of creating your classroom management plan is to reflect on your classroom systems. I recently wrote about classroom systems in my post, Episode 74, Organizing Your Classroom: Creating Systems That Work. In this episode I briefly spoke about three main systems you will want in your classroom: the teacher area, student areas, and small group area.
Thinking through how you want these areas to function and flow in your classroom can help you tremendously in feeling prepared and on top of the beginning of the school year. Having well-working systems at the start will also set a great first impression with your students’ parents. Being and looking organized will instantly boost their confidence in you as their child’s teacher.
Think About Your Classroom Management Techniques
Part of your classroom management plan should include how you will manage behaviors. There are lots of different ideas available for free and low-cost to implement in your classroom. I suggest picking a few things but plan to start using only one at a time to make sure it works well for your personality and also your students.
I have compiled a list of 4 ideas in my post Episode 41, Classroom Management Quick Wins. Starting the school year with a secret student is a great way to set positive expectations in a really fun way. Plus you don’t need to spend a dime to do it! Read the post to learn how by clicking on the link above.
Are you a visual learner and want more help? Check out my super affordable course, the CLASSroom Management Adventure - perfect for new teachers looking to create a solid classroom management plan that can be adjusted each year. Just click on the picture below to learn more or to sign up.
Choose Your Classroom Decor
As a new teacher it can be very tempting to start with designing your classroom and choosing the colors first. Trust me, I get it. This is the fun part of getting the keys to your new classroom and you could spend all summer doing projects and decorating.
I urge you to think through the curriculum and your classroom management first. Then work on the decor. As fun as some of the styles are out there (boho is gorgeous), keep in mind that busy classroom walls tend to be distracting to students. I personally love to pick two main colors and have that be my theme.
My last classroom was black and a bright turquoise. The colors were mainly on the bulletin boards and a few objects around the room. The longer I’ve been teaching the more streamlined I like to be and the less items I feel I need in my room. Also, my last few classrooms have been small with no built-in cabinets or shelves which makes having a lot of stuff tricky.
Pick A Few Select Projects
Summer will be gone before you know it so I would advise you to pick just a few projects to work on for your new classroom. Most of the projects I spent hours and hours on in my early years of teaching were not used very long. Many seemed like great ideas but didn’t work out like I had hoped.
When choosing which projects you’ll want to complete, look at several teacher blogs or instagram for ideas. Pay attention to the comments and see what other teachers are saying. If possible you might even ask teachers at your school what they have done that works well for them.
One of the easiest projects is to create student labels. I love assigning students a number and having numbers for all their things. I use my computer and Avery labels to design an attractive looking label that has a picture for my beginning readers (plus I just love a good picture) and place the number in the corner.
Often the office staff can make a prediction on the previous year’s grade below for how big your class size will be. For example, if you teach second then look at how many students the first grade teachers had. Always make several extras for new students. Your roster tends to change frequently in the first few weeks leading up to and beginning school (especially if in a transient area).
Another project can be to work on laminating your center materials. An alternative to laminating can be using card stock or adding paper into page protectors. A handwriting sheet in a page protector with a dry erase marker is my favorite morning warm up before we dive into our phonics.
Don’t Forget to Relax
My best advice for new teachers in the summer is to relax. While there is a ton to do, once school starts it can become quickly overwhelming. Plan for a week or two to do nothing classroom or school related.
Once teaching starts you could spend all your days and evenings doing school things if you aren’t intentional with your time during your workday. Sometimes even the best planners will have a ton to do and feel like they are always behind because many times teachers just aren’t given sufficient planning time. So enjoy your summer and do something relaxing.
Congratulations on your new journey into the world of teaching. I’m glad you are here.