Now that the new school year has begun, it’s easy to get caught up in the flurry of to-do lists and more. It is important to take time and reflect on what worked (and what didn’t work) last year to set goals to ensure that this year is 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 tech 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.

Reorder your workbooks, fill content gaps, and discover new products for back to school at

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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.

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