Gentle Steps to Prepare for the Upcoming School Year During the Summer
Summer is a recharging station. It offers teachers a mental and physical break from the day-to-day routines and demands of teaching. While recharging, teachers begin to dream of and envision what the upcoming school year will offer in terms of growth—both for our students and ourselves. Here are a few gentle steps to take to prepare for the upcoming school year while taking time for self-care.
Reconnect With Your Why
Take some time to reflect on what it was like when you were your students’ age. If possible, find a picture of yourself from around that time. What do you remember about school? What ignited your passion for becoming a teacher? If you could be a student in your current classroom, what would you want to see in the space? How would you like to feel in that space? Check out how your responses—and your ultimate “why” for teaching—align with the core belief and guiding principles of Responsive Classroom.
Pack Your Sense of Wonder
In his song “Son of Man,” Phil Collins sings, “In learning, you will teach / And in teaching you will learn.” This summer, take that advice to heart. Do something you enjoy. Be a student and dive deeper into a passion project. Take note of the natural learning cycle as you generate ideas, establish a summer learning goal, and actively work toward it. Reflect on what you gained from your project and how it feels to be an engaged learner. (Learn more about the natural learning cycle and how it enhances student learning here.)
During the previous school year, you witnessed the developmental growth of your students and facilitated student learning. With the upcoming school year looming, now is the time to revisit developmental expectations and create a plan to get to know your new group of students. Request your class list, organize the list chronologically, and do the Birthday Cluster Exercise. Pull out your copy of Yardsticks and examine the developmental expectations for the ages you will be teaching.
Map the Next Steps in Your Responsive Classroom Journey
As you recharge this summer, spend some time meditating on the next steps in your Responsive Classroom journey. Whether it be revisiting a Responsive Classroom resource you have used in the past, such as The First Six Weeks of School or The Power of Our Words; exploring the Responsive Classroom webinars; reading a book that is new to you, such as one from the Empowering Educators series; or finding a four-day or one-day workshop to advance your practice, Responsive Classroom offers many resources to support your growth.
Being intentional and purposeful in using your summer experiences to recharge and prepare for the upcoming year will set the stage for a year of growth for both you and your students.
Julie Kelly is a Responsive Classroom consulting teacher and a contributing author for Empowering Educators: A Comprehensive Guide to Teaching Grades 3, 4, 5.