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Starting the School Year: Challenges and Changes

By Heather Skipworth Craven

Starting a new school year can be daunting to say the very least, especially if you are a new teacher. The tasks of setting up a classroom, establishing policies, planning a behavior management system and all the endless amount of tasks that have to be done before our students arrive can be very overwhelming.

I have cause to reflect upon my own weeks before school began. I am the type of personality that is basically random abstract, meaning I have a tendency to start a multitude of tasks at the same time, work on a few and never get one completely finished. This was something I was fully aware of, yet I couldn't seem to change. I remember all the times in a panic I would think that there was NO way I was going to be ready for my students, but somehow I always was ready.

Yes, starting a new school year is fraught with challenges. I always liked to reflect upon the previous year to see what worked and what didn't. What were the biggest challenges for me and how can I prepare to better meet those challenges. A new school year is also a time of change. We will never have a group of students who are the same. They all come to us with a different dynamic, different personalities and abilities. It is our job as teachers to meet these changes and challenges head-on with confidence and firm resolve.

I would suggest trying some of the following to help with challenges and changes:
  1. Do an honest evaluation of what worked the previous year and what didn't. Make changes accordingly. Or if you are a new teacher, list the things that you think will be the challenging for you and plan accordingly.

  2. Make sure that your classroom layout, procedures and discipline systems are a good fit for your teaching style and personality. In other words, don't set up a rigid behavior system, if by nature you are more laid back and flexible.

  3. Organization is the key to alleviating stress!! The more you can be organized in your preparation, the easier it will be to get started.

  4. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Veteran teachers can be above all the best resource you'll ever have.

  5. Make a plan for accomplishing tasks. Set goals for yourself and be realistic. Plan to finish one to two tasks from start to finish each day. Plan things so you can see your accomplishments. This is extremely motivating.

  6. Relax!! Even if you don't have every single thing in place for the first day, it's OK. Go easy on yourself and above all, enjoy your students, your classroom and teaching!!

Remember, that the most important thing about facing the challenges and changes of starting a new school year is to have confidence and a positive attitude. Armed with those tools, you will ensure your success and the success of your students.

Read our tip entitled "Facing the Changes of a New School Year".

Survival Kit for New Teachers Survival Kit for New TeachersLooking for practical tips and ideas for the start of school?
Check out Survival Kit for New Teachers.

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