My Top 5 Tips for a Successful Year!

Are you an educator?  Whether you teach littles or bigs, public, private, or homeschool your kiddos, read on to get ready for the upcoming school year and be ready to start learning with success!

I don’t know about you . . . but I’m knee deep in planning mode for the upcoming school year.  I’ve spent time this summer relaxing, recreating, and yes, even reflecting upon the 2018-2019 school year.  Now it is time to use my new knowledge and energy to launch a successful 2019-2020 year!!  Since I’m in planning mode, and I know you may be too, I’ve outlined my “Top 5 Tips” to help you get your year off on the right foot!

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1.  If you didn’t have a chance to reflect upon the prior year at the end of that year (see this post), then you’ll want to take some time to do this. 

After you have had time to reflect upon the prior school year, write down those ideas that worked, ideas that need to be tweaked, new ideas you want to try out, and ideas that need to be put on the back burner.  Be thinking about classroom management, academic instruction/assessment, parent communication, routines, procedures, and expectations.   I know when I didn’t take time for this step, my year seemed to be more chaotic.  Lesson learned!  This “idea sorting” is a valuable use of time.  Now I start my year with a clear focus on what my room will look like and sound like in each of these areas.

2.  Once you have tip #1 clearly thought out, it is time to begin thinking about the academic program.  How long did it take to get through the literacy and math programs?  What literacy components (think reading and writing) can be integrated into social studies content?  Science content? Where can math skills be integrated into social studies and science?  What standards did my prior year students struggle with?  How can I provide alternative/supportive instruction to compliment the district curriculum? How can I effectively use technology to support/reinforce learning?

Yes, these questions engage you in more reflection, which is an important piece to proper planning. Do not overlook this important piece to planning your successful year. 

I have a great FREE resource in my TpT store, Online Learning Resources and Tips.  This resource shares a variety of technology resources that can easily be implemented into your program along with some usage tips. 

3.  Now it is time to get the Curriculum Map ready for the school year.  This map will be your outline with the information you identified in tip #2.  I usually have the teacher guides available to help me with mapping the year. You’ll want to indicate how many weeks each content area unit will take to complete – knowing that there needs to be some flexibility for any hiccups that come along during the year.  Work to align similar units for cross curricular thematic teaching. If needed, you can further align to quarter or semester breaks – whichever works for your teaching situation. It seems like we never have enough time to teach the entire curriculum; therefore, examining the standards/content that need to be taught and finding opportunities to integrate for whole child teaching is imperative and SMART teaching.  When kiddos experience learning across the curriculum, they retain the information – thus improving learning opportunities, meeting standards, and increasing achievement!

I developed this form to easily monitor student reading skills and strategies progress. This FREE resource below is available in my TpT store, link located in the sidebar.

4.  Now it is time for the official Teacher Notebook (or whatever planning/organization tool you use) where I house all my important information, such as the Curriculum Map. I use my custom designed Teacher Notebook for this purpose that is also available in my TpT Shop. I like to keep everything in one place either in hardcopy or online to better organize my thoughts, lessons, and year.

lesson planner, teacher notebook
Get your customized 2019-2020 Teacher Notebook!

Another Teacher Notebook option is from Erin Condren shown below.  I haven’t tried this notebook (as I made my own); however, this is another great option if you don’t have time to personalize your Teacher Notebook.  I have a few colleagues that use this notebook and love it!  This Erin Condren Lesson Planner can be customized to fit your needs; however, you’ll need to add the district/state info, calendar – things specific to your teaching context.

teacher, lesson plan, notebook
Erin Condren’s Teacher Lesson Planner

I always have my prior year Teacher Notebook  handy as an additional resource (if needed).  I add the non-school days and district/state testing schedules, since I have to plan my lessons around these time frames AND have specific curriculum completed prior to specific state and district assessment dates. My school also holds a meeting the first few days we report back to school to determine the assembly schedule, PTA meetings and fundraisers, and anything else that needs to be placed “on the calendar”.  All of these “other functions” impact my instructional schedule, and I allot this time in my planning.

5.  Now that I have important dates listed in my Teacher Notebook  or Erin’s Lesson Planner, I add the Curriculum Map information from tip #3.  I make certain to complete all standards by the end of the third quarter, since testing in my state is held the first two weeks in April.  I want to make certain my students have had every available opportunity to learn content prior to being assessed on the content.  I know that my Curriculum Map outline is fluid; therefore, I always write in pencil and make certain that I have aligned the content as perfect as I can to support student learning. Even though it is a fluid map, I do work to stay on target to ensure students have been taught the required curriculum standards.

That’s it!  My “Top 5 Tips” that help me have a successful year shared here for YOU!!  I’m certain that if you implement these tips in your planning stages, you will have a successful year, too!!

Do you have other ideas or tips that are beneficial?  It is always fun to learn from one another.  Feel free to share in the comments below.

Be on the lookout for my next post in my “Top Tips” series to planning your successful 2019-2020 school year!

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Annette Durbin

Annette has been an educator for more than 30 years working in the PK-6 elementary classroom, K-12 multi-language learner instructional specialist, district leadership, university professor, as well as a mentor for teachers nationwide. A National Board Certificated Teacher, Annette focuses her research on accelerating learning and advancing achievement, personalizing instruction, technology, and leadership in the education field.

This Post Has 61 Comments

  1. Alexandra

    these tips are super-helpful not just for teachers and students but for parents as well! i can see how i can help prepare my little one 🙂

  2. jen

    I wish you were my daughters teacher! You are on it girl! Love what you do!

  3. Haley Kelley

    Love organization! This is a great post! Thank you for sharing

  4. Ramae

    I used TPT all the time as a high school teacher. I always planned on using my summers as reflection and did somewhat, but mostly I just needed to recover and enjoy the break from the craziness. I was always dreaming up new things and new ideas which kept teaching fun though!

    1. User Avatar
      Annette Durbin

      That’s awesome, Ramae!!! The trick is never to be stagnant in the classroom!! I’m glad you take time to “recover” – we ALL need that time!!!

  5. Shirley

    Great tips! My daughter-in-law is a middle school teacher. I will forward this on to her. Being prepared always makes life go smoother, no matter what you do. Thanks for sharing.

    1. User Avatar
      Annette Durbin

      Thanks, Shirley!! I appreciate the share and wish your daughter a fabulous year!!

  6. Suzan

    Great suggestions for all those teachers out there! All will be back to school soon & your’s is sure to be a successful one!

  7. Pauline Reynolds

    I think these are great tips for anyone who presents information, not just teachers. I really could have used these when I taught life skills classes and presented to parents.

  8. Autumn

    My daughter is starting pre-school this year and I know her teachers are probably already hard at work planning for it. Thanks so much for sharing your insight!

    1. User Avatar
      Annette Durbin

      How exciting for you and your daughter to be starting preschool!! I’m sure the teachers are planning, too.

  9. Adrienne B Redelings

    I prefer to bury my head in the sand and not think of school starting yet! In all seriousness, really great tips you have here. Thanks for sharing!

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