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!
The Daring English Teacher says
I plan on using your Guidebook next year with my honors students! It is such a great resource, and I know my students will benefit from it!
Brain Waves Instruction says
Loving the idea of gifting the guidebook to students at the beginning of the year…it's a gift that keeps on giving! Thanks for the free planning tools as well!
Love your guidebook idea… really inspired! thanks so much for sharing this!
I LOVE the planning sheets! I am printing some off to make a binder as we speak!
Brynn Allison says
The planning sheets would also be great when I want to blog about a lesson after the fact and can't remember the details of what made it so awesome (or not).
The Literary Maven
Danielle Knight says
Great way to start the students off with organization. Great post!
Mrs. Spangler in the Middle says
I love both the planning sheets and the guidebook! I need both! Thank you!
Mrs. Spangler in the Middle
Stacey Lloyd says
Such wisdom Jackie! I must say that it will take a lot of discipline to sit down and work on this at the end of the year, but I know that you are totally right – doing this will help to refine my teaching and prevent me from teaching the same way every single year. Brilliant! Thanks for sharing.
Kristy M says
I love the idea of keeping an ongoing lesson/unit feedback sheet as you teach to write down improvements for next year. In 8 years of teaching I have never taught the same lesson again! I always improve it or make a new one. Thanks!!
Addie Williams says
I love your guidebook…and so do my kids – they all have a copy in their writing folders!
Darlene Anne says
I love those planning pages! Thanks for sharing them. And your guide looks fantastic! I will scoop it up if I'm teaching 8th grade next year.
Thanks for sharing!
Jackie Cutcliffe says
Thanks everyone! I'm so glad that those of you who have the guidebook are getting good use of it!!
Sherri Tyler says
I absolutely adore your binder idea and planning pages! Thank you for making it so easy to stay organized and think ahead!
Room 213 says
You're welcome, Sherri!
Ceil Beagle says
Your guide book has become an important resource for my students! They are constantly using it. I added some blank pages to the end where students can add real examples, jot notes, etc. They really love using it!
Room 213 says
I'm so glad to hear that! Great idea to add more pages–their thoughts and reflections on their own work are so important.