Pencils, Backpacks, and Perspective: Approaching a New School Year

The time has come once again when students are pouring back into classrooms. Some have already been in them for a few weeks, others still have a week or so before their imminent return. The one thing most of these students have in common though is that the beginning of a new school year can be both an exciting and stressful time. From adjusting to new classrooms to meeting new teachers to making up for the summer slide, the first days of school can be hectic and overwhelming if not approached carefully. So here are what I see as a few priorities at the start of the year:

  1. Get to know your students: This can be difficult because of time and classroom occupancy, but I strongly encourage you to go for it anyway. Now I don’t mean the going around the classroom sharing one interesting fact about yourself sort of thing. It would be much more helpful to have students write something for you, addressing their interests, learning styles, etc. But don’t forget yourself! Giving yourself a backstory and making yourself as “human” as possible, will allow your students to feel comfortable connecting with you.
  2. Assess, assess, assess: You can go about this however you like, but it’s important to know where your students are both intellectually and emotionally. If they have fears or concerns about certain things, know them. If they have strengths in particular areas, know those too. Developing a plan of action early on that can be adjusted accordingly later is key.
  3. Ease on in: As I said before, the beginning of the school year can be extremely hectic. So I would recommend taking as much time as you can easing your students into everything that is new for them. Introducing to much at once could lead to overload and anxiety. Just keep in mind – they are kids, not chameleons – and you’ll be a superstar!

What are your priorities at the beginning of a school year? Did summer fly by? Who’s excited for a fresh start? Let us know in the comments!