It’s around this time – mid July – that I get the first thought of the new school year. Sure, I’m enjoying the summer – the fireworks, chilling on a “beach-ish” sandy shoreline, and enjoying an amusement park.
Still, the thought of the new school year creeps in. After many, many years of living according to the academic calendar, these fledgling thoughts of the new year has been turned into a formula. For next year, I think about what I want to carry over from the previous year, what I want to improve upon, and what I want to try that’s new. If I were teaching this school year, this is how the formula would play out.
I bring over all of my lesson plans. When I was teaching, I always kept all of my previous lesson plans in a binder. By the end, the giant 2.5 inch binder was a couple of pounds. It was always fun to look though the lessons, with immediate memories of successes and failures flooding in.
I won’t copy the plans verbatim for the upcoming year. Still, I put a lot of thought into these plans. Why reinvent the wheel? Use the previous plans as guidance for the new year. This will save you a lot of time on planning so you can spend more time on preparing supplies and making resources.
I think about the lessons that didn’t go well or the skills I need to improve upon.
Despite all of the planning in the world, lessons will go wrong. Either children will miss the intent of the lesson, I didn’t teach it well, or it ended up just not being interesting or fun. Just happens. Some of those lessons are just so bad that I won’t do them again. But there are some that I know will be great with a little change or tweek. Those I want to improve.
I also want to improve my skills. I was good at a lot of things, but equally bad at others. I was known for taking tangents on my lessons. Sometimes the resulting product was spectacular experiences. Sometimes, they would utterly confuse the children or I would lose track of why I went a different direction and forget what I was teaching. A lot of my lessons would just go so long because I bloated them with a lot of additional stories or information that was not part of my original plan.
Staying on task is something I want to improve. That and better discernment between when taking an tangent is advantageous or when it’s not worth it.
Try Something New
The first place where I would trying something new is when I would start supply shopping. It’s not blind shopping. When I started looking for new materials and resources for the classroom, I maintained the perspective of how the item would work within my system of teaching and classroom culture. I didn’t want to get a new toy or resources just because it was shiny and trendy. I bought supplies that fit my teaching pedagogy.
With that in mind, these are the classroom supplies I would incorporate in my classroom this year…
STEM is big deal in education and I consider it tremendously important during the preschool years. This is a highly-rated resource I would try out – Teaching Stem in the Early Years by Sally Moomaw, EdD.
I’m a big fan of classroom timers. But the ones that work best in preschool are the ones where children can see time counting down. This way, they can anticipate how soon an activity will end or how soon an activity will begin. This is a timer I would try out – Time Timer.
There are supplies that just lend themselves open to creative application. This is one of those supplies – shape bean bags. Shapes should be in a preschool classroom… period. The shape names or on them. Plus, they are bean bags. There are many ways to ways to use bean bags in the classroom. Plus, the opportunity to cross cognitive knowledge with a physical activity. This would be one of my most anticipated supplies to get in August.
So, that’s the formula: carry over, improve, and new. It’s starting to feel like a new school year.