Sunday, September 1, 2013

Advice to get you over the “Humps” of the First Weeks of a New School Year

I am not exactly sure what it is about a camel walking through an office asking, “What day is it?” that makes me laugh whenever I see it, but it does.  Of course from now until the end of time, every Wednesday, someone, somewhere, will shout, “Hump Daaaay Whoo Whoo!” 

The first weeks of school inevitably bring challenges to teachers and there will certainly be many “humps” to overcome.  The sooner you get over these humps, the more relaxed, happy, and productive you will be.

The Curriculum Hump:  Chances are that if you are reading this your school or district is implementing a new program, system, or curriculum.  This is a hump you can overcome with your colleagues.  Utilize the resources that are made available and collaborate.

The Personnel Hump: Each year there are bound to be new additions to your staff.  The importance of collaboration cannot be overstated, but it begins by forming professional relationships based on mutual trust.  You won’t know what others can offer to your practice if you don’t take the time to get to know them.   

The Balance Hump: The initial days of a new school year are usually described as overwhelming and all consuming.  It is sometimes easy to forget the other parts of your life in the midst of the chaos.  Once things are under control, make time for yourself to do what you love, it will make you a much more effective teacher.

The Relationship Hump:  Spend time early in the year finding out as much as you can about the learners in your charge.  This investment of time will yield dividends throughout the year.

The Parent Hump:  Make the effort to reach out to the families of your students before they reach out to you.   This may be via a phone call, email, meet and greet, or a ten minute conference.  It is extremely important to establish that you are accessible and approachable.

The Evaluation Hump:  Probably the most controversial hump to get over.  It is important to educate yourself with the process and become knowledgeable of the standards you are being evaluated on.   If you regard the entire process as an opportunity to reflect and grow you will find it far less daunting.  

The Planning Hump:  You don’t need every detail of every lesson planned out weeks in advance.  In fact, you will want to wait and let your formative assessments and student interests guide parts of your instruction.
The Technology Hump:  Don’t be intimidated by technology.  The more you use it the more comfortable you will become.  Spending time just mucking around with technology is the best way to practice and learn.

The Scheduling Hump: The need to be flexible is essential! School scheduling is a myriad of moving parts that involves room availability, contractual consideration, service providers, and student needs.   The sooner you come to terms with the fact that your original schedule may change, the quicker you will get over this hump.

The Procedures Hump:  Keeping our students safe is a responsibility that falls upon us and must be taken seriously.  Yes, it is sad and unfortunate that we have to prepare for the unthinkable.  Lock downs, buzzers, evacuations, and drills can be inconvenient, but reminding yourself you could be saving a life will help get you over this hump. 

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