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With the Back-to-School season upon us, it’s easy to get caught up in the flurry of to-do lists and more but it’s important to take time to reflect on what worked (and what didn’t work) last school year so you can set goals to ensure that this year is even better! Here are a few tips:

Set your goals early

In which areas do you want to improve? Make a small list of goals to focus on this year. Do you want to improve your questioning techniques, gamify your activities, or incorporate new tech skills? Do you want to provide better feedback to students or communicate more with families?

Write down your personal goals for growth this year, and put them in a spot you will see.

Make plans in advance…but be flexible

Come up with an outline of what each day will contain. This ensures you will cover all the curriculum and standards in an effective way rather than making it up as you go along.

Of course, anticipate modifications to your schedule, too. As you learn about your students’ needs and preferences, you will need to make adjustments to fit their unique qualities.

Imagine the outcomes

What will your students be able to do by the end of the year? Spend time just imagining – literally sitting down and picturing in your head – how your students will look and sound if they have successfully achieved the standards of your class. Imagining these outcomes will help you layout specific plans to get them there!

Establish communication early

Develop your plan for communicating with students and families outside of the classroom. How will you use communication to turn families into teammates? Come up with your methods for communicating with families by letter, take-home folder, phone, email, social media, and more.

Familiarize yourself with edtech tools and methods

Depending on your school, you might have a variety of tech tools at your disposal. Do you know how to make the most of these tools?

Find creative and worthwhile ways to incorporate technology, but don’t feel overwhelmed. Focus on familiarizing yourself with a few simple elements of your technology that you can successfully implement in your classroom. Start by adding just one tech element to your routine that you didn’t incorporate last year.

Read, Read, Read

You’re already reading this blog – that’s a great start! To really get ready for a great year, find resources that will inspire and teach you. I encourage you to read at least one book a trusted colleague recommends. Find education blogs and websites and read them regularly, or consider joining social media – like Twitter – and customizing your newsfeed to deliver a variety of educational ideas!

Each year we teach we should be able to say, “This is my best year!” If we focus on growing as educators, then our back-to-school prep should involve careful reflection and year-to-year improvements.

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Jordan Catapano

Jordan Catapano

High School English Teacher

Note: Fresh Ideas for Teaching blog contributors have been compensated for sharing personal teaching experiences on our blog. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.