I am excited to be linking up with Linda from Floating Down the River!
Summer is a carefree time to enjoy family, friends, sleeping in, going out, and traveling about without any care. We as teachers, however, suffer all too soon the moral lesson of the neglectful hungry grasshopper if our summer break is all play and no work.
I teach my students and children that first we work hard and then we play hard. (Which is why a piece of good chocolate and an entertaining novel hold a reserved spot in my summer routine!)
Accomplish everything possible for the coming school year, before ever beginning summer vacation! It’s true that as educators our professions are constantly changing and evolving. But there are some things that remain constant in our classrooms and teaching. The handful of things that won’t be changing over the summer months should be taken care of before you ever lock your door and clear out.
Welcome Letters and Back to School Packets
Towards the end of the school year, or if necessary the beginning of vacation, I double check my “Welcome to 5th Grade” student letter and “Back to School” parent packet. I alter any pieces of information that have changed or will change from the current year and then print and copy those items so they are ready to go for back to school night.
Yes, this means I am preparing for the coming year three months before it will happen and it often means I am telling about my planned summer vacation before it occurs, but TRUST ME, it is a beautiful thing! I currently have both of these items copied and stacked nice and tidy on the counter of my classroom waiting for me to return to my room the first week of August.
Every year, without fail, I utilize character quotes with my students. The set of quotes I use depends on the grade I am teaching, but quotes are an utterly consistent part of my classroom and always will be. Knowing this allows me to prepare my student’s character quotes ahead of time. I double check which set I would like to use, update any biographical information and then once again print and copy. During the last week of school, I allow student volunteers from my current class to stay in from recess and organize the quote sheets, placing them in page protectors to prepare for the coming class. The students LOVE to assist me with this and often include handwritten notes within the page protectors explaining to my future students why they too, will love learning character quotes in 5th grade.
By the time the bell rings on the last day of school a second tidy stack sits on my counter: 30 sets of quote sheets in their clean new page protectors, ready to be placed on top of students desks for back to school night.
Back to School United We Stand Bulletin Board/Lesson Plan & Share Your Garbage Get to Know You Game
Two last things that I consistently prepare at the end of May for the coming August are the items I will need for my United We Stand Bulletin Board with corresponding writing lesson and Share Your Garbage Get to Know You Game.
For the former I organize my bulletin board letters and center piece into a large plastic bag. I also once again head to the copy machine and prepare 30 copies of my scaffolded “I Am” poetry writing worksheet. I know my students will be working on their poems the firstweek of school because I will utilize them that same week to decorate my bulletin board. Preparing for these things ahead of time doesn’t take much effort, but
allows me to focus on more important things when crunch time rolls around.
Lastly, I prepare my Share Your Garbage Get to Know You Game. While grocery shopping, towards the end of the school year, I make sure to pick up some tiny trash bags or if I can find them, colored lunch sacks. I then print off my Share Your Garbage Poem and spend my lunch break cutting them out and attaching them to the bags. I place these next to my other tidy piles on the counter and find comfort knowing that one more task for the coming year is accomplished and checked off the list.
A Turkish Army Officer once wrote, “A good teacher is like a candle, it consumes itself to light the way for others.” And so, this summer, like my previous summers, I find myself (and my teaching friends) attending classes and researching pedagogy.
August through May is for student learning, while June through July is dedicated to teacher learning.
I attend conferences throughout the year, but summer is my golden opportunity to truly grow as an educator. In the summer I finally get a chance to review all of my notes, collaborate with peers, plan how to implement new ideas for the coming year and of course delve into the never ending list of books that keep me inspired and on my toes.
(Do you have a list of “teacher” books you are just dying to read? Please tell me I am not the only one!)
When the work is done I play grasshopper for a bit. I eat some chocolate and thoroughly enjoy spending time with my three Little Women, Husband, and of course the novel I am reading for nothing more than pure pleasure!
For more tips make sure and head over to Floating Down the River.