Prepare Now for a Successful Start in September
At the end of my first year in Primary Teaching, I remember the temptation to walk out of my classroom at the end of the last day of term and not go back until September got near! But a helpful colleague encouraged me to prepare then to reduce the stress and it actually made my first summer break more relaxing.
If you’re an NQT coming to the end of your first year, or you simply want a fresh perspective, take a look at our 15 tips for a successful September below.
1. Clear Your Desk
Make sure you have a clear space to return to in September. Take some time to chuck, sort and file! Now is a good opportunity to update your filing system or create a new one! Remember to be ruthless and throw away the things that you know you won’t honestly re-use.
2. Do a Stock Take
Have you still got the same number of scissors you had at the beginning of the year?! Highly unlikely unless you’ve been religious with your class in tidying up on a daily basis! Will your glue sticks make it through another term? Is your storage still looking neat and tidy? Create a checklist of everything that needs to be replaced or fixed and get them sorted in good time for your successful September.
Did you know that PTS can create personalised pencils for you? Named pencils can prevent a lot of classroom arguments. Check them out here.
3. Get Your Paperwork Done
If you have any reports or end-of-year paperwork to complete, try to do them in the last couple of days of term rather than letting them spoil your Summer break.
4. Seating Plans
Decide on your seating plan. Do you want table groups or rows? Mixed ability or set? Do you want pupils to move about for different lessons? It is always best to put plenty of time into planning to ensure a successful September.
It rarely works to allow a free for all as to where to sit. I would recommend deciding on your pupils’ place to sit for the first few days, but in your initial class survey, ask who they would like to sit next to.
Consider ability/gender mix, friendships, comments from the previous class teacher as to whether this child works well with that child – or children who must be kept apart. However, be open to allowing a child a fresh start. Children mature at different paces, so try not to allow a previous teacher’s perception to cloud your thinking.
5. Moving class
If you’re moving classroom, make sure all of the desks and trays in your new room are empty and ready to use. You could even get all your pupils’ trays labeled ready with their names. Transfer all of your classroom resources and stationery to your new room. If your policy is to move before the end of this term, plan it carefully and give pupils some jobs to do to help you. Children learn a lot about their personal organization through these practical tasks.
6. Survey Your Pupils
Your pupils have been with you for a year. Who better to help you reflect on your teaching? Find out what they enjoyed most (which subjects/topics) and which they weren’t so keen on. Find out what their favourite activities were. Ask them for some constructive criticism about your teaching (Yikes!).
7. Reflect on your classroom behavior management skills
How did you manage classroom behaviour this year? What were your stand-out successes? What were your main challenges? How will you overcome these next year? Write some bullet points/notes to help you to process your thoughts and come up with action points for next year (feel free to share them in the comments section below). Find out how the Good to be Green scheme can help with classroom behaviour, in our short video here.
8. Meet Your New Class
This will obviously depend on School Policy/Practice of when to reveal who’s teaching who next year. If your new class is already at school and you’re going to meet them, put some time into carefully planning what you are going to say to them. It’s a great opportunity to ask them to complete a questionnaire so that you can get to know a bit about your pupils over the Summer break. It will be one less thing to do in your successful September.
9. Prepare Your Classroom Displays
In the last few days of term, ask your pupils to help you to take down your classroom displays and at least get some backing paper up. Get some inexpensive, colourful educational posters to cover the walls until you have your children’s work to put up.
Make your classroom bright, interesting and welcoming for your new pupils. It is very important to create the right initial atmosphere as it can affect pupils’ mood.
10. Create a New Ideas Think Tank
Get together with your colleagues over lunch or in the pub at the end of the day, to share your successes and investigate new ideas for the upcoming year, so that you can all have a successful September.
11. Look After Number One in the Holidays
This will depend on your personal circumstances as you may have your own children to look after in the holidays, but try to plan some relaxing breaks if possible. Include some time some just for you.
Be creative with your to do list depending on your interests! Plan a day at a museum or a walk along the coast or just spend the day reading in your local park, woodlands or beach.
Attend some teacher/education events. Even though it is summer there are plenty of ways to do some CPD. As well as conferences and open days, why not take a look at literature festivals? Many have sessions on children’s books and you could pick up some great ideas.
How about starting a journal? Why not keep a track of the interesting things you do, new knowledge that you gain and any brilliant ideas you have? You could use these notes to create a journal full of positive things to support you throughout the following year.
12. Think of next year’s Classroom Rules
Are you going to make your own set of simple, positively framed classroom rules? Or, are you going to do this as part of a class activity to do together on the first day? Always try to frame your code of conduct positively, for example, ‘Remember to…’ or ‘We always try to…’ rather than ‘Don’t…’ or ‘You must not…’.
Emphasise the expected good behaviour model. When discussing rules always try to get every child on side and to come up with reasons why rules are necessary, and how unhappy a classroom could become if there were no agreed rules.
PTS has fantastic products to help you to manage behaviour in the classroom. Why not take a look at the brilliant Good to be Green scheme range?
13. Organise Your Pupil Reward Scheme
How have your pupil rewards worked this year? Do you need to stock up on stickers, stampers and certificates? Reflect on these in July (you could even ask your current pupils’ opinions!) and get organized. You won’t want to be without them on your first day back. Take a look at our popular stickers, stampers and certificates for some great ideas for a successful September.
14. Get Labeling
Label your new exercise books, reading record books and homework diaries with your new pupils’ names and have them ready to hand out on the first day of term.
15. Create a great first impression
Those first few days are crucial to making an impression as a positive teacher who your pupils want to co-operate with. If we get that initial impression wrong it can take months to undo the damage.
Don’t let your nervousness cause you to over-react to minor issues
Always be kind but assertive in your speech
Create your own list of things that you will never say to a child (however much you feel like saying it!!)
Words said in a moment of anger or frustration can crush a child’s spirit and do equal, if not greater, damage than something physical.
We have a huge responsibility as teachers to create a secure loving environment for the pupils in our care. They will spend more time with you over the next 12 months than anyone else in their life and they will probably remember you till their grave. I can remember every Primary Teacher I ever had almost 50 years later! I remember whether they motivated me or not and whether they helped me to flourish as an individual.
Everyone at PTS hopes that you have an amazing Summer break and that you return to school for a successful September, feeling fresh and prepared for your new class and the year ahead.
All the best,