Sunday, August 5, 2018

3 Tried & True Tips to Start the Year off Like a Boss!

 Oh my goodness, the countdown is on! In just one week, I start YEAR 32; eek! I came across this hilarious (yet accurate!) post on We Are Teachers: 8 Back to School Emotions all Teachers will Recognize. Read it HERE
In my earlier years of teaching I used to spend the time before school focusing on the physical aesthetics of setting up my classroom (and it sure was cute!), but my focus has shifted over the years. Now I spend most of my time planning how to create an inclusive and respectful community, classroom culture, and to develop relationships. This is why I look forward to each new school year with excitement and anticipation!
Most importantly, cultivating community and the expectation of acceptance, growth mindset, and kindness within my classroom is first on my list of goals. We begin each school year creating a class mission statement. You can read more about that HERE.
My rug is a focal point in my classroom, where my small group instruction, read aloud, and morning meeting take place. We begin most days with morning meeting (think bigger kid version of pre-school circle time). You can read more about that HERE.
Learning to collaborate with others and use teamwork also helps to develop community. A very fun (and silent!) team building activity is the Cup Challenge. This is a great first day of school activity! You can read more about that HERE.
Developing relationships with students and their families helps the school year run smoothly. When parents know that you care about their child, as well as feel “you know what you’re doing”, they’re on your side. The first month of school I make quick phone calls home or send welcome postcards to each student, personalizing the strengths I observe about their child already. Be proactive by informing parents of upcoming events and assignments, sending email blasts, keeping families informed with short updates about what students are studying, or parent tips for how to help their children. (My updates are like mini PDs for parents; know WHY you’re doing what you’re doing) While I occasionally send hard copies of updates, most of my correspondence is via email or Remind texts. (Less chance of it getting buried at the bottom of the backpack Black Hole!) You can read more about parent communication HERE.  (Check out my FREE newsletter template HERE)
Teacher self-care is critical to starting the year off like a boss! You know the airlines procedural instructions to put on your own air mask BEFORE assisting others with theirs. You can’t do your best for your students if you are not at your best! This means getting enough sleep, drinking PLENTY of water, eating healthy, finding time for exercise, and “me time”. (I know. . . this sounds like summer, right?!) Going back to school is such a jolt to the senses because many of you may be workaholics (guilty!) and once school starts, that’s all you seem to have time for. It is so important to set work time boundaries and continue to make time for YOU! I read like a maniac in the summer (see below some of the books I finished & loved this summer), then school starts and I seem to only have time to read books during Read Aloud.
In the summer, I take morning walks through the neighborhood and practice yoga. These things should not stop just because school has started! (I’m talk to myself, too) Schedule family time, partner time, girls’ nights out; it’s important and will leave you rejuvenated! (Plus writers need experiences to write about; enjoy life outside of school!) You can read about finding that all-elusive balance HERE.
You can also find more ideas on my Teacher Care Pinterest board HERE

Some teaching besties and I have started getting together (from across the country by phone) each week to laugh about some of the things that have stressed us out as teachers. We have had so much fun laughing at ourselves and the overwhelming tower of things we have taken soooo seriously that we decided to start a podcast! To keep you motivated throughout the school year, be sure to subscribe to We Teach So Hard! (Each episode is only 15-20 minutes, to keep you company on your morning commute to school!) We hope you will join us by listening and by interacting with us on our Facebook page We Teach So Hard. Because we know that you teach so hard, too! 
Podcast on iTunes           Podcast on Anchor           Facebook Group
For more great teaching ideas, click on the buttons below. Have a great start to your school year, you’ve got this!


  1. I really like your analogy in tip 3! We have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others. Balancing this is so hard when school starts! Thank you for these tips!

    1. Balancing teaching & self care is hard! Thanks for stopping by, Sally!

  2. It's funny how priorities shift! Another read: Amal Unbound. It's part of the Global Read Aloud this year.

    1. I just got Amal Unbound! I love participating in the Global Read Aloud!

  3. I really enjoyed your post. I do tend to forget about the self-care part, but it is so important. Best wishes for a great school year!

    1. Thanks, Michelle! I know; I have to make a concentrated effort to get enough sleep and to eat healthy; lol. Best wishes to you, too!