Back-to-school guide for teachers

Dr Karla Hylton

Sunday, August 18, 2019

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Our focus at this time of the year is, understandably, trained on getting students, and schools, ready for the start of the new school year. But what about teachers? How do they prepare? Do they even need to?

It goes without saying that because teaching is a rewarding job emotionally, it is a helping profession, and by virtue of that it exposes educators to a multitude of unpleasant situations including inadequate compensation, unruly students, unruly parents, large classroom sizes, limited teaching resources, long hours, and competing family responsibilities.

For those reasons, the start of the school year may be a source of emotional dread for many. In those cases, back-to school preparation is key for reducing levels of stress throughout the year and keeping anxiety at bay.

In my expereince, I have found that it is best to start each school year afresh with adequate planning, new ideas and a positive outlook. Here are a few strategies to help with the preparation for a strong start to the new school year:

Preparation: Being ready is number one on my list. Just like our students, teachers must be adequately prepared. A smooth school year is contingent on planning. Lesson planning, worksheets, assessment and other instructional tools should all be arranged at least two weeks in advance of proposed lesson. This extra time serves as a contingency in case of any unprecedented hiccups. Thinking, planning and doing things ahead of time lead to greater efficiency.

Innovation: Whether you are a first-time teacher or a veteran, this is an important aspect of teaching. Always think outside of the box, and come up with new and exciting methods of engaging your students in the matter of learning. Come up with new ways to present the old ideas. Maximise your efforts in making learning an active process rather than passive.

Printing requests: Getting material ready for students in your school's office can be challenging with the host of classes offered. Get started early and put in your requests far in advance of when the material is actually required.

Execute classroom management strategies: This is especially useful for teachers of primary level students. Examine new ways of arranging classrooms to make learning effective and to foster classroom discussion. Decide on the rules and regulations of your classroom and have them posted on the wall at your students' eye level.

Set up a filing system: Like it or not, the business of education generates a lot of paper. Before schools reopen, put a system in place so that grades, worksheets, tests, handouts, etc, can easily be found when required.

Plan your meals: Many teachers neglect themselves due to the arduous schedule of academic life. Busyness can lead to the demise of making time to simply eat well. This applies to students as well as teachers; three square meals a day is essential for good health. Depending on the structure of your teaching timetable, you may consider preparing a meal at home and then taking it to school. This cuts down on time taken to purchase lunch and would also ensure that the meal is healthy.

Connect with colleagues: It is good to have at least one fellow colleague who you can bounce ideas off or vent about a problem faced in the classroom. This is good for your mental health and promotes camaraderie in the workplace. It would be a good idea to reach out to someone before the beginning of the school year.

Great classrooms and great teachers do not happen by chance. This arises only through interest and by collaboration between all the stakeholders: students, parents, administrators and teachers.

Wishing you all the best for the upcoming school year!

Dr Karla Hylton is the author of Yes! You Can Help Your Child Achieve Academic Success and Complete Chemistry for Caribbean High Schools . She operates Bio & Chem Tutoring, which specialises in secondary level biology and chemistry. Reach her at (876) 564-1347, biochemtutor100@gmail.com or khylton.com


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