I’m excited to be joining up with some amazing secondary ELA teachers who want to share some tips for starting next year off right.
One way to do that is to end this school year with a little reflection and planning. I’m always worn out by the end of June; however, if I dig deep and spend some time planning for next year, I will be so much happier in September (and I’ll get more time off in August!)
Every semester I think of things I’d like to tweak the next time I do a unit, but I never make notes, just assuming I will remember when the time comes. Then I don’t. I’ll be in the middle of something before I realize that I’d planned to change things up. So this year, I’m making notes before I leave, and I’m making a commitment to myself that I’ll keep it up during the school year.
Start a binder or a journal (grab the cover here). Use it to record ideas and “notes to self” as your school year progresses. Find a special place for it on your desk, so it’s always close by. Include a calendar and mark when you started and ended units, so you will be able to remember how long it took you to complete each one. More importantly, include sheets where you can reflect on your successes and failures.
I’ve already started recording some ideas for next year on my planning pages. I’m trying to focus on the specific skills where students are weak and to reflect on what I can do to work on those weaknesses. You can grab these free planning pages here.
I’d also like to recommend one of my favorite products, the English Student’s Guidebook. It contains most of the info that English students need at their fingertips, things like how to embed quotations, how to write a works cited page, how to do a close read of a text, etc. The flipbook is easy to use and gets rave reviews from my students, who love the fact that all of the information is in one spot that is easily accessible. It would be a wonderful-and useful-gift to give your students at the beginning of the new semester.
Regardless of how prepared you are when you leave, make sure you take care of yourself over the summer. Rest, relax and recharge that battery!