By Jillian Hartman, MS
Online Faculty, College of Education
By Brandon Juarez, MEd
Online Full-Time Faculty Manager, College of Education
New school year jitters are not just for students! Teachers are equally excited to embark on the journey with new students, new schedules and perhaps a new classroom environment.
To prepare for the new adventure, teachers need to start planning, adopting new pedagogical practices and increasing their professional learning network (PLN), to name a few.
The following tips offer the best approach to igniting the passion to teach while also putting your best foot forward:
Pick a Personal Goal to Set the Tone for the Academic Year
As an education professional, personal growth and development are best practice. But, attempting to establish such an approach mid-semester is next to impossible.
Instead, creating a goal before students arrive to their desks allows the teacher to focus on key themes and not be swept up by day-to-day tasks. Even better, communicating a personal goal with parents and other stakeholders provides a unique opportunity to develop rapport and demonstrate a desire for lifelong learning.
For example, when pursuing my English as a Second Language Endorsement, I enrolled in Spanish 101 and 102 at the community college. And, at the beginning of the school year, during the getting-to-know-you experiences, I shared that with my students and their parents. It was wonderful to witness their support and encouragement throughout the semester as I tried to master the concepts.
Explore New Technology Tool(s)
Before the daily schedule is filled with tasks and must-do’s, plan to explore new edtech tools in your summer down time. Before lesson plans are drafted, consider incorporating fun elements of technology to enhance curriculum goals and engage students in their learning.
For instance, Remind, Edmodo, use of iPad during instruction and/or Plickers are some options to get you started! For an even more in-depth list of very useful technological resources, check out this article.
Identify a Colleague for Support
Without a doubt, challenges and unique situations will arise when the school year gets started. Plan for such instances now by identifying a colleague who would be available to offer alternative viewpoints, talk through situations and listen to frustrations.
Too often, teachers are isolated in their classrooms and feel a lack of support. Maintaining a peer connection allows for confidence with overcoming difficult situations and decisions.
Start Organizing Your Work Space and Computer Now!
Before the forms, rosters and student papers start piling up, plan to develop a system to categorize specific documents before the school year begins.
For electronic documents, predict and anticipate important folders that will be needed throughout the school year and make arrangements to use this system when the schedule gets really busy.
For hard copies, specific binders with labels allow for quick tracking, feedback and access to important documents when needed. This approach also quells piles from stacking up on your desk while also demonstrating an effective organization strategy for students to observe.
Find Work-Life Balance
Planning lessons, grading papers, conferences and other before/afterschool commitments may quickly lead to burnout. Before the school year begins, plan and stick to a time when the lights are turned off and the email is shut down. Identifying specific times to arrive and depart each day will help you remain balanced with work and home life.
More about Brandon:
Brandon began his journey in education as a coach, teacher and athletic director in a Phoenix K-8 school, serving primarily in the middle school segment of the school. Brandon began his position at Grand Canyon University as full-time online faculty in August 2012 and expanded to the College of Education as an adjunct faculty on GCU’s main campus in the spring 2014. He received a promotion to manage a College of Education full-time online faculty team in April 2013.
In addition to his position at Grand Canyon University, Brandon also enjoys supporting GCU’s academic mission through his involvement as an adjunct instructor for the GCU College of Education campus, serving as a subject matter expert (SME) on special projects and site supervising educational administration interns and secondary education student teachers. In his spare time, he enjoys spending outdoor time with his wife and two children.
More about Jillian:
Jillian began her educational career in 2007 as an elementary teacher in a Glendale, AZ K-8 school. Mentoring several student teachers and creating professional development workshops led her to Grand Canyon University in 2013, where she is currently a full-time online faculty member in the College of Education.
In addition to her position at Grand Canyon University, Jillian enjoys exploring new edtech tools to increase student engagement and achievement. Jillian spends her free time with her husband and son.