Before I even attempt to write this post, I want to be 1000% clear that I don’t believe any teacher anywhere needs to work on schoolwork or preparations during the summer. However, I know that at some point in the middle of summer break, many teachers get an itch to start working on their classrooms for the upcoming year! Further, many teachers simply don’t get enough prep time before school starts, which means they have to start thinking about school well before their contract hours begin.
I’ve always been one of those people who has a steady stream of school projects going on all summer long, and over the years, I’ve wasted a lot of that time working on things that don’t matter. I have an extensive blog post about what you need to prep for the first day of school and what you can leave behind, but it’s been over five years since I wrote that original post, and I have even more to add. Here’s my list of summer to-dos that actually make a difference come day one and my list of dont-dos that can wait!
2020 Disclaimer: I’ve had this post in drafts for a few years and was finally able to finish it up. While this school year may look a lot different than a typical year, this list doesn’t include any distance-learning specific must-dos.
This also gives you time to prepare some of your resources. I’m working on a blog post about math workshop specifics, but here is a quick overview and how it impacts my summer planning. I typically have three rotations on any given day. One is always Meet with Teacher. The others will vary between Task Cards, Independent Work, Math Games, Fact Practice.
Ways to Prepare for Math and Reading Workshop:
- Prepare labels for each of the rotations or decide how you will display the different activities students will be doing. I print and laminate titles of each rotation and then put student names on magnets so they are easy to move around and group for different units.
- I prepare a TON of task cards over the summer. A ton. I use them in both my Task Card and Math/Reading Games station, and I have a set for just about every topic. I love the feeling of having them all printed, laminated (if you laminate) and ready to go before the school year even starts. HERE is a blog post about how I organize my task cards.
- Gather Games. For me, this means I am looking for games at Goodwill, really great deals on mini travel games over the summer, and also preparing content-specific games. I also use these for indoor recess!
- I gather and prepare materials for several ideas for fact practice over the summer, and I always seem to change this up. HERE is one of my favorite math fact practice games that you can prep over the summer.
Make sure you have a library full of different, diverse characters and settings (see @diversereads on Instagram for a good definition of “diverse” and so many wonderful suggestions), a variety of levels (both picture books and chapter books are a must), and include books that challenge your students’ perspectives. Decide how you are going to organize your library. I did mine by topic, and never by level.
Pacing Guides/Scope and Sequence: Your school or district will likely already have this planned out for you, but it is really crucial that you have a master plan of what your year is going to look like and become intimately familiar with it. There is so much (SO MUCH) to fit into every school year, and you can easily get off track. You also need to be ready to pivot. Teaching long division is probably going to take you infinitely longer than you are prepared for. Identify places in your calendar that you can wiggle a little bit and know when diversions are likely coming.
Seating: Do not stress about the perfect seating arrangements. They will change quickly and likely frequently over the school year! If you are considering Flexible Seating, you can read my posts about that HERE. Design a simple seating system that will work for the first week or so and then reevaluate.
What would you add to either of these lists? I know my to-do list is always seven miles long before the school year starts!