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It is August and that means it’s back to school time. Yes, soon that bell will ring, so it is time to start thinking about the new school year.  I have always enjoyed August, with the hustle and bustle of preparing for a new group of students, attending professional development sessions (remember to schedule your Mastery Manager training!), and reconnecting with colleagues after the summer break.  This is a fun time, but trust me, I know it is BUSY.  So, very quickly I’d like to share why I love back to school time and then would love to hear your thoughts on it as well. What do you love and loathe about back to school? Do you have routines that could change another teacher’s life? Don’t keep all the great ideas to yourself!

I love the chance to start fresh. I may be in the same classroom or building, working with the same team, but each new year is a chance to start over. How often in life do we have a chance to completely start anew? This is what is so unique about teaching. Whether it is shaking off an old image, starting over after a move, or simply accepting a new challenge, education offers a special opportunity each year to begin again. I find it energizing to get something as simple as brand new notebooks and pencils.

Wait–What?!?!?

I get excited over new supplies? Please tell me I’m not the only one who loves new Sharpies and Post-Its. My Pinterest feed is filled with classroom themes and arrangements. Rearranging the classroom after the summer deep cleaning doesn’t seem like such a daunting task when it’s back to school time. And those new bulletin board ideas flow freely and go up with ease.  I can, and do, spend hours perfectly arranging the tables, desks, reading nook, and workstation areas to make learning environments exciting and engaging.

Beyond setting up the classroom and organizing fresh school supplies, back to school is a chance to implement new ideas and strategies. Of course, I had my go-to routines that worked, but there are always ways to grow and improve teaching and learning.  Remember that reflection time we set aside at the end of last year? Now is the time I get to try out some of the new strategies with a fresh group of students. That behavior routine last year that flopped? Forget about it… try the strategy your colleague uses with success. Maybe your district is implementing new district-wide initiatives such as 1-to-1 technology in the classroom. Certainly this will have an impact on the daily planning and strategies in your room. I encourage you to be bold this new year. Change things up and be willing to give new strategies a chance.

Lastly, I’d like to touch on the subject of connecting. At the beginning of the school year, I love to get to know my new students. There are surveys, classroom team building activities, and routines to build. I also think it’s important to build connections among the staff. Even if there aren’t a lot of new teachers or staff in the building, making an effort to connect as a school can greatly improve the building environment for the whole year. Back to school time is a great chance to set some staff morale routines that will encourage connections throughout the year. Here is a little guide on bringing more sunshine to your school.

How are you using this prep time for the new school year? I hope you get excited about this fresh start—this new school year full of potential. Even though I’m no longer in the classroom, this time of year signals a new beginning for me too. It’s a chance for me to make changes, build new connections as I conduct Mastery Manager professional development sessions, and start fresh. Happy back to school!

 

*** Remember, I want to hear from you! Comment below with your ideas and experiences with back to school. You know I’ll love reading it, but you might just help a fellow teacher looking for fresh ideas, encouragement, or real thoughts from the classroom.

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