School's out for summer. If you think students are excited, teachers are pretty thrilled with the idea, too. Days lounging in the sunshine and warmth, vacations at the beach, traveling to new cities for adventure. It’s a special time of year that everyone looks forward to.
But one thing is for sure, the job of a teacher doesn’t really stop during the summer. Even in July, your mental wheels are turning, dreaming up curriculum changes and how you should arrange your classroom for next year. If you’re feeling ambitious, you might even spend time in your classroom regularly during the summer, making sure everything is ready for that first day of school when fall rolls around.
You really can’t be too ready, right?
Maybe you’re feeling a little behind, though. You know that you’d like to make some changes for the fall, but either you’re stumped for new ideas or you’re just struggling with the motivation to get it all done.
We’ve put together some ideas to help you pull together your most organized, innovative, and successful year yet. Read on to be inspired!
1. Take the time to disconnect and focus on self-care.
Being a teacher is a meaningful job, but it can also be draining and exhausting. Take the time this summer to just focus on you. Avoid your email and work-related phone calls for a couple days at a time, if you can. Read a great book that you’ve had on your to-read list for ages. Go on a memorable road trip with friends. Laugh and de-stress as much as you possibly can. You deserve it!
2. Create time for professional development.
Head to that conference you’ve always wished you had time for. Take some short online courses about fun, innovative curriculum design. Check out a new online learning platform that you’d like to integrate into your classroom. Create a colorful, engaging website “home” for your students and their parents. Get together with your teacher friends over coffee and exchange ideas. Dream a little!
3. Clear out the clutter.
Teachers tend to like to hang on to every little piece of something, thinking that it might be useful in a project at some point. The truth is, all that stuff ends up in a cupboard somewhere taking up space and never being used. With an empty classroom, it’s now your time to get everything sorted. Invite a non-teacher friend to come help you look at all the extra stuff objectively. Then recycle and give away anything that you think is just taking up space. You’ll make room for new learning opportunities and your students will be thrilled with the ambiance of the clutter-free room.
4. Look over student feedback and update curriculum.
You’ve probably had those moments in the middle of a lesson where you realized that the curriculum was designed awkwardly, wasn’t really getting the point across, or was just plain boring. Take some time to look through your yearly curriculum plans and work on fixing the lessons that just haven’t been working. If you collect student feedback (or you just have a memory of students’ reactions), use that to spruce up the lesson. Make it enjoyable and give it new energy. You’ll have a lot more fun next year, knowing that every lesson will be awesome.
5. Plan out your classroom for next year.
It’s time to sit down with a pen and paper. Think about all the various ways you’ve arranged your classroom in the past. What worked and what didn’t work? Figure out some new arrangements to try and do some reading online for innovative ideas. Sketch out some possibilities and have a couple plans ready to go. In the end, your students’ personalities and learning styles will dictate which plan will work, but it will be important to have ideas ready to go beforehand.
6. Rethink your furniture.
If you’ve been dedicated to the typical classroom structure of single desks in rows facing the whiteboard at the front of the room, take some time to learn more about flexible classrooms. If you’re short on space or ready to upgrade your teaching style, this will help launch a whole new way of teaching. Set up spaces for collaborative learning, either by having students sit at tables together or by strategically grouping deskstogether. Encourage students to interact and learn together.
7. Create new learning spaces.
Children tend to learn better when they can move around and switch activities as their attention span is dwindling. Dream up a few kinds of environments in your classroom where children can try something a little different. Wiggly kids can do math problems while rolling around on a yoga ball, introverted kids can curl up on a bean bag chair in a quiet corner, kids working on a project together can spread out on a rug and debate the best way to construct their plan. Make the classroom learner-centric instead of teacher-centric. Your students will thrive and you’ll enjoy supporting their unique learning styles. Summer is the best time to create all of this as you can hit the garage sales and online furniture discounts!
Spend some time this summer on Pinterest and you’ll see why it’s such a great space for teachers. There are a million ideas for how to decorate your classroom and you’ll find plenty of inspiration. Create diverse spaces for decoration and leave some empty areas for student contribution. Kids really enjoy being part of making their classroom look great, causing them to feel like it’s really their classroom.
9. Pace yourself and be adaptable.
Summer is a great time for a classroom overhaul, but don’t forget to rest and relax. Pace yourself and don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t get it all done. Focus on the things you’d like to change the very most and don’t worry about everything else. Leave lots of room for being flexible and when school starts again in the fall, be adaptable with the plans you’ve made. It may be that you have a great idea that doesn’t work as well in practice and just needs some changing with student input. Be ambitious but have lots of fun too!
Organizing your classroom can be an overwhelming, yet exciting process. Summer is such a great time to take on projects as you’ll have some free time and an empty classroom. Don’t forget to take time for yourself to rest and relax. Spend time on professional development and dreaming about new classroom and curriculum designs. Think about your furniture and make sure it’s flexible enough to accommodate children’s unique learning styles. Create fun, new spaces for quiet work and group collaboration. And most importantly, have fun putting it all together this summer!
When it’s time to create new classroom spaces and order new student furniture, head on over to Classroom Essentials Online for quality furnishings and excellent customer service. You can find us at classroomessentialsonline.com or by calling (866) 404-7671.