It's that time of year for all teachers to shake off the summer, be it all those little jobs we have to do to make ends meet or an actual two month vacation that they promised us in graduate school. For me, this was the first summer I have had off in over five years. Other than strengthening my online game playing skills, I am actually rested and psyched for the new school year. And on top of that, I am returning for a third year - the longest I have been with any school to date.
I have already ran into students form last year who are taller than me ad chatted with my incoming students for this year. As opposed the to the one parent who questioned my selections for summer reading, these young people were very excited about reading a book that they could actually relate to (thanks Dr. Bushman - I never doubted you!).
So how to get ready? For my third year, I actually feel better prepared on the one hand and still feeling my way on the other. Some routines I will keep and others will be either new or modifications of older ones. I am sure that all new and veteran teachers alike have their list of things to get done and for me it is still a work in progress.
Summer Prep Work
At the very least, I got to catch up on my reading. As opposed to summers past where I was training camp counselors and fending off middle camp management types, I actually got to take time to read stuff for me and keep up with what my students are reading. I had the chance to take a technology seminar to prep my "paperless classroom" model, get my first quarter planned out (more on that later), and learned a new word : luddite. I built a small, portable stage for my Shakespeare Unit and put together new tables for my classroom. And in between, my better half and I moved to an apartment on Campus top save some bucks - now my commute is 2 minutes of walking to school.
Getting the Class Ready
I love velcro. I spent this afternoon slaving over a hot laminator machine covering all my wall hanging in protective plastic. A few snips on a roll of industrial velcro, and now everything that goes on my walls stays until I move it. I have velcroed wires to walls, speakers to wallsm pictures, pens, and assorted toys, etc. Buy this stuff - and you will wonder how you got along without it.
I purchased trapezoid shaped tables and currently have my seating arrangement in a narrow "U" shape. The plan was to make the tables low to the ground and have the kids sit on floor pillows for greater comfort; but alas, the pillows are not working so this year they sit in uncomfortable school chairs. Maybe next year. I have my class guidelines up and the consequences for anyone who has difficulty with them. I have portraits of authors and poets from the past as well as some choice student work to offer as demonstrations for this years 8th graders. The one new thing I am bringing in is something living. Plants would not do too well with me, so our classroom will home to two hermit crabs who are yet to be named. Although, there may just be one little crab if this other is not, in fact, molting.