How do teachers prepare for the new school year? If you are a teacher who works a traditional school year, with a traditional summer break, how do you summer? Are you the type that likes to work your way through? Or maybe, you take as much time off as possible and cram all your preparations into the last few days before the new year begins. Do you totally unplug for the summer or do you like to keep your toes in the water?
-This is a guest post by Heidi’s daughter, Kim Giron, who teaches TK (Transitional Kindergarten) in Southern California. 🥰
I tend to land somewhere in the middle, as I’m sure many of us do. Typically, we like to kick off the summer with a trip of some sort (big or small, depending on the budget.. hello inflation!) My school year is over in the end of May, usually before memorial day so I like to get our fun stuff in while it is not quite as expensive and not as crowded.
After we return, I have a strict no-work policy for the month of June! I take the entire month off. I do not think about work or do anything work related and I certainly do not head into my classroom at all. Even last summer when I was moved to a new school, I held firm to this policy. Of course, the fact that my new school was under construction and completely off limits until the last weekend before school started did play a small part in that. 😉 In any case, the boundary was held for me and it was a blessing, as it always is. Taking time to unplug is so important.
That said, the first week in July I always start to get the itch again. Even in July, I go slow. Once a week-ish during nap time for my young children. Sometimes that looks like heading into the classroom while my husband works from home and the kiddos are asleep. Other times I just jump on my laptop and use the computer during that uninterrupted time.
Check out what is on my to-do list every year:
Update My Amazon Wish List
This is the most fun, of course! What can I do to refresh our space and supplies? I use the Amazon wish list as a reference for myself as I gather items I know I need to purchase. Also, I unashamedly send out this list to parents at the beginning of the year. Fortunately, I work in an area where families are eager to donate and this is an easy way to give those who do like to donate an idea of what to purchase. Sometimes this looks like replacing items that are old and broken like toys or bins and boxes. Most times the items I place on the list are things like tissues, whiteboard markers, play-doh, etc. Busy families save themselves a trip to the store, and I get exactly what we need for our classroom! So that’s a win-win! I keep my list up to date throughout the year and send it out again from time to time. It is, of course, completely optional and only a handful of families will donate, but every bit helps!
Update My Parent Handbook
This one is a biggie! It’s probably my largest project in the summer, every summer. Each year we host a parent orientation night the week before school begins. At orientation, parents are given the handbook as a one-stop shop for all of the important information they need to know as the school year begins. I also give this handbook to parents of new students who start with us mid-year. You can take a look at the handbook here, download it free, and adjust it to fit your needs!
The last few summers I have (obsessively) checked day after day until my class roster is posted. The moment it is available, I fill in names and addresses on these postcards and race to the post office to send them out. I do usually print them on some brightly colored paper! When students receive these in the mail, they scan QR code to find a video from their teacher! In the video, I share how excited I am to have them in my class, and invite them to our meet and greet that takes place the week before school begins. This is also an opportunity for me to remind parents of the date and time of our orientation. The two events are usually back to back days, and are generally a great success to calm some nerves before the first day. Check out the free postcards here.
Plan With My Team
Of course, we have to get some planning in there before the year begins! I don’t actually have a teammate at my school; the closest teaching partner I have in my grade level is at my previous school across town. We used to teach in neighboring classrooms, so we still plan together and typically do not change up our routine much from year year. We are always working to make it just a little bit better, but overall it stays the same. My go-to for the first few weeks of school? Of course, it has got to be HeidiSongs colors and shapes on repeat. These songs are easy to learn, engaging and a guaranteed crowd pleaser to get our wiggles out! You can see a few samples of these videos on YouTube, but we do not post all of our content there; head on over to HeidiSongs.tv for all of our content!
That Summer Feeling!
Whether you spend your summer in the sun with a cold drink and a good book, or dusty and sweaty in your classroom with the AC locked in the off position, we all can agree that being the boss of your own time and schedule for those precious few months is one of the best feelings around! So tell me, what are your plans for this summer? How do you prepare for the new school year?
Kim Giron teaches Transitional Kindergarten in Southern CA, and has eight years of experience in public school classrooms. She is married and has two beautiful little boys, which makes her mother, (“Miss Heidi” Butkus,) very happy!