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Educator Development

Strategies to Start the School Year Strong

The start of each school year usually brings both nervousness and excitement. There are many things to prepare, students to meet, and your classroom to set up. It may feel a little overwhelming, but with a positive and open mindset, you and your students will have a great start to a year full of meaningful learning!

One of the most important ways to start strong is to build relationships with your colleagues. Fellow teachers, both in your school and outside it, are great resources for help and advice when you need them. These relationships will make you a better educator, and provide you with important collaboration and support. You will also want to focus on getting to know your students right away. This helps students understand you are investing in them from the beginning and creates a healthy, respectful classroom environment.

Another important consideration is how you will set up your classroom to develop the type of learning environment you want. Creating a global look and feel, including a culture corner, will enable your students to experience the world without leaving your school.

Read on for more tips and strategies to help you feel confident and prepared from the very first day of school and all through the year.

Establish relationships, inside and outside your school building.

As you meet your fellow teachers and colleagues for the first time, you will want to establish a strong rapport and good working relationship. 

Support fellow teachers at your school by taking an interest in their work and collaborating when possible. Help them pilot new lessons they are working on, or offer help in your areas of expertise or interest. This will show your coworkers you are investing in their success and want to work together. 

Acknowledge what other teachers in your school are doing well, or something positive you observed about their students in staff meetings and other contexts. This public recognition breeds positivity and better relationships among everyone.

Also, be sure to go to social events outside of school throughout the year. You don’t have to attend every event, but participating in and helping plan some of these gatherings demonstrates you care about your colleagues.

In addition to educators in your building, you can also rely on your community of practice (CoP). A virtual CoP allows you to connect with other educators around the world who have similar interests or expertise. You can share resources, join discussions, and problem-solve together with other global educators. This will be an invaluable resource for your teaching, and also helps fight any feelings of isolation as you adjust to a new school.

And of course, the most important reason you are an educator—your students! Strive to build relationships with your students from the first day of school. Work on learning their names and how to pronounce them right away. You can also use the first weeks of school to discover students’ hobbies, favorite subjects and foods, and home life. Making the effort to know your students will also help them open up to one another and create a positive classroom environment for everyone.

Create a global classroom conducive to your learning goals.

In addition to establishing relationships, you will also want to set up your physical environment in a conducive way to learning. First, think about what kind of classroom you want to create—will your students be collaborating often? You may want to arrange desks in small groups. If you plan to use project-based learning or a makerspace, you’ll want to have tools and supplies where students can easily access them.

However you decide to arrange your classroom, we know teachers have a lot of stuff to keep track of! Lesson plans and units, art supplies, books, among other things, all need to have a proper home to keep you sane throughout the year. You can often find bins, jars, and other organizational items at dollar stores or craft stores. Try these practical organization tips from a teacher. 

If you are a Participate Learning Ambassador Teacher, you will also create a culture corner in your classroom. This will be an important tool to share your culture and facts about your home country with your students. Flags, maps, and artifacts will be a tangible representation of the global learning happening in your classroom. Be sure to have enough materials to change up your culture corner periodically, especially to connect it to a concept or unit of study.

We hope these strategies help you feel confident and ready to have a great school year with your colleagues and students! For more ideas to inspire you, see Participate Learning’s global resources for teachers.

What tips do you have for starting the school year well? What have your students responded to and how do you build relationships with fellow teachers? Let us know on social media using #UnitingOurWorld!

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