Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Teaching Prep: Routines, Materials, Clothes, Food, Schedules, Initiatives . . . .

Teaching is an intense profession. The day starts with a bang when twenty-plus children enter the classroom and then it ends with a sigh eight hours later when the last few students leave to go home. Of course there's the addition of early morning and afternoon prep, planning, and meetings too. How can teachers prep for this intense schedule during summer months?

It may sound crazy, but to have the just-right clothes for teaching well matters. Every teacher will define "just right clothes" differently, but for me that means mainly play clothes--clothes and shoes that allow me to sit on the floor, explore the forest outside, paint, create, move freely, and play. Having a good collection of the right clothes for ease of wear helps when it comes to teaching well.

Teaching makes you hungry, and it's important to have lots of healthy choices available for lunches and snacks during the day. It's also important to have a couple of good water bottles with your name on them so that you're drinking water during the day. Having a place to store your water bottle, snacks, and lunch helps too. Too often teachers may get too busy to prepare healthy snacks & water, but that's essential when it comes to good energy for positive teaching.

Positive Patterns: Sleep, shopping, and more
You don't bring sleep to school, but a good night's sleep definitely helps you teach better. Having positive daily and weekly routines help to make sure you get the sleep you need and the food, clothing, and other items you need too. Amazon can be considered a teacher's support personnel because having needed school items shipped right to school saves time and energy, which in turn, allows more time for sleep and your personal life too.

Phone Calls
It's almost impossible to make phone calls during the school day so summer is the best time to set up appointments, plan field studies, and do any phone calling that requires wait time.

Healthy Patterns and Routines
It's good to decide on what your routine will be during summer and they work to stick to that routine when the school year starts. For example, people ask you to meet at all kinds of times outside of the work day. If you want to reserve time for exercise, your family, or other personal events, it's good to put that time on your schedule before school starts and let people you work with know that it's a time you cannot meet.

When I was a young mom with children at home to care for, my husband and I gave each other one night off when we could work late and catch up with friends, errands, and other matters. On our night off, we didn't have to prepare meals, carpool, or do any of the home chores--this was really helpful during those years when we were balancing intense school/work and home schedules. I recommend this idea to young families.

Choose Priorities
Good Teaching calls you to be every-person--there's limitless opportunities to get involved, but the truth is that if you stretch yourself too thin, you don't do anything right. Hence, it's important to choose where your priorities will be for the year ahead and then try to stick to those priorities leaving other areas of school life for those who have prioritized those areas. For me, my focus in the coming year includes the following:
  • optimal fifth grade math teaching/learning
  • optimal fifth grade science/STEAM teaching/learning
  • facilitating successful reading workshop and student-teacher conferences
  • SEL at fifth grade including a focus on teamwork, showcase portfolios/metacognition, culturally responsive teaching (movement from dependence to independence for every child)
  • Advocacy and effort to enrich our greater team's collaboration and research-based efforts to elevate successful learning for every child we serve. This includes revising RTI, deepening/bettering work we do with interventionists, and developing our environmental education efforts. 
Our school will be working on many more priorities, but I'll leave that work to colleagues who are invested in those decisions and that work. Having priorities helps you to choose well when invitations to join committees, initiatives, and other work arrives at your door. 

Of course the new year will bring unexpected opportunities and expectations, but to be prepared to be your most professional, energized, ready, and focused self sets you up for success and good service/partnership for the children, colleagues, and families you work and learn with.