On Your Mark: Back To School – Part One

Megan Howe
Megan Howe
2 Aug
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How is it possible that the end of summer is so close? For many teachers around the country, the beginning of August is the beginning of school. I still have 3 weeks left before I head back in for meetings and set up. That doesn’t mean I’m not already thinking ahead! Last week I walked through a local store and saw “Back to School” supplies ready to go on full display. My heart sank. Yes, it is time.

Before I get back into the real swing of things, the last few weeks of summer are a time when I start shifting gears from full on summer mode to sort of a part-time summer mode. Before I order supplies, move furniture, and consider the nitty gritty details of everyday life for the upcoming school year, I get “on my mark.” This means thinking about my curriculum, my big ideas, my philosophy of teaching and how those might change or stay the same. Here are some questions I like to ponder in the waning weeks of summer.

What Will Be New?

It is true, every year we teach we use what have used in previous years. However, the last few weeks of summer are a time when I think about what might not have worked last year or perhaps what was missing. Maybe there is an organizational piece of my room that didn’t work. Should we have the writing center in a different place? More or less materials? Perhaps one unit of study was a bust last year. What might replace it? What new math strategies have I learned about that I can incorporate into every day? What routine just didn’t make the cut last year and made things worse instead of better? Every year, I add something new to make this job what it really is – a seasoned practice.

What Can Stay the Same?

We did an amazing unit on bees last year. The kids were really engaged, the teachers were engaged. We were obsessed with everything bees, inside and out of the classroom. That unit has got to stay!! I also want to look it over and determine what it was that made that unit work. I should try to incorporate those things into other units. What can stay the same in your classroom this year? What were your shining gems that you can’t wait to do again?

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Where Will I Grow?

This year I am starting a whole new approach to teaching math in kindergarten. I’ve been reading about it over the summer and I am excited to incorporate new routines, new strategies, and a new way to think about teaching! This will be a lot of work for me. Throughout the year, I will need to constantly reflect on how it is going. This will be the area I push and stretch and work my hardest. When you grow, you put even extra effort into what you teach. How will you grow this year? Are you trying a new curriculum? Maybe this is the year you really look at analyzing anecdotal evidence. Or perhaps you have decided to videotape yourself while teaching to reflect on how you use your voice, questions, calling on students, etc. Whatever it is, start thinking now about what you will focus on.

Get on your marks, teachers. We are about to jump back in the race!

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