How to Have a Successful New School Year
Updated: Oct 5, 2021
By Carol Cronk, Ed.D
How will our school year look different after many are coming back from a year or more of virtual learning?
All of us are worried about the great learning gaps that have occurred while students were not in the classroom, and we might feel compelled to jump right into teaching and assessing to see where the gaps are in our student’s learning. But, before we get too much in a hurry, here are some considerations and possible goals for the new school year.
Make sure to establish rules and routines
Many of our students have been learning virtually for the last year or even the last 18 months. Even if they attended school in person through the pandemic, their lives were certainly affected by living through a pandemic. To support them in settling in with in-person learning, we need to reestablish in-person routines, classroom rules and procedures, keeping some of the new routines we learned while virtual, and not assume that all will return to “business as usual”. Here are four routines that you might want to consider.
Greeting our students as they enter the classroom
We all know that a greeting to students at the door can set the stage for a positive classroom learning experience. However, sometimes we get distracted with classroom administrative duties such as taking roll. Try to be there for your students; here are 5 Simple Ways to Greet Students and Create More Engaged Learners.
Keeping a classroom calendar
Many of us used a Google calendar to assign homework and other assignments during distance learning. This helped students to be more organized and know what was expected of them. When students return to the classroom, what will your calendar look like? One suggestion would be to continue using the Google calendar, and another might be to create a large wall calendar. In addition to posting assignments and due dates, your calendar can include learning intentions and success criteria. Here is A Teacher's Guide to Google Calendar • TechNotes Blog to simplify and save time in creating your classroom calendar.
Having clear rules for technology
Before distance learning, as teachers we had to have rules about how students used technology in our classrooms. During distance learning, technology became the vehicle through which we communicated with our students. Online textbooks and other supplemental online materials provided much of the content support for our instruction. Students have become accustomed to highly engaging material and frequent transitions. This will factor into our instruction back in the classroom. More and more, schools have enough Chrome books or other devices to ensure that every student has constant access to technology. To keep our students safe and engaged, our rules for technology use need to be clear and well rehearsed. This article on Digital Safety | Computer Rules Prevent Problems provides suggestions to keep your students safe as you establish your new routines.
Redefining group work rules and expectations
Distance learning brought with it something new to us, breakout rooms. Breakout rooms allowed students to work in small groups synchronously during a class. However, in some districts there was concern about students working together in a group without a teacher in each room to supervise conversations. Whether or not you used groups during distance learning, setting up routines early on so that your students understand the group rules and expectations. Decide what roles the students will have in the groups and what expectations you have for each individual within the group. In Group Work That Works, teachers contribute their great ideas on how they make groups work well in their classrooms.
This year will be an exciting time for us to take what we learned during distance learning and combine it with what we did before to provide powerful learning experiences for our students.
Bergland, Jennifer, A TEACHER’S GUIDE TO GOOGLE CALENDAR, https://blog.tcea.org/teachers-guide-google-calendar/, 2018.
Minero, Emelina, Group Work That Works, https://www.edutopia.org/article/group-work-works, 2019.
Starr, Linda. Education World, Digital Safety | Computer Rules Prevent Problems, https://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech/tech044.shtml,2011.
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Meet the Author
Carol Cronk is a Partner Consultant with The Core Collaborative. She works with Impact Teams in Science and Mathematics. She has been a mathematics teacher, as well as a county and district administrator at both elementary and secondary level educational institutions. She currently works as Coordinator of Mathematics and Science at a high school district in San Bernardino County, California. Carol’s passion is to partner with mathematics educators who are student-focused, value continued learning, and willing to work with students at the conceptual level of mathematics to support all students in truly understanding mathematics and how it is used in the real world. Away from work, Carol loves to spend time with her husband, her grandchildren and all of her dogs and horses.