Summer is here and yet I'm still not getting time off. I've spent my first day without students reflecting on the last year, going through student work samples for my portfolio, and thinking about changes for next year. Being in special ed leaves a lot up in the air each summer. I don't know what grade levels I'll be working with in Septemer. I don't even know what building(s) I'll be in. I probably won't know either of those until about a week before school starts. Therefore, thinking about long-range planning, as most of my co-workers plan on doing this summer, won't work for me. So what can we do to prep for the upcoming school year? Gather ideas and materials. Here are some of the projects I want to do this summer:
1. Create a new behavior chart
2. Create a writing station (aka - different types of paper in labeled paper sorters - spacer paper, primary paper, primary paper with picture, first and final draft paper, graph paper, blank paper)
3. Set up a binder for student work/probes
4. Create a few mini reading/writing UbD units
5. Create my go-to files for reading comp, decoding, writing (Copies of my most used resources)
If you are a returning teacher, I'm sure there are tons of things that you can think of that you want to improve, modify, update, and create. Take an hour and really think about things you want to do differently next year. Write them all down and then sort them into order of importance. Try to get all the highly important items done in July. That will leave you with all of August to get even more done - or to ignore school completely knowing your "must do" items are finished.
If you just found out you will be teaching in a resource setting next year, you will need a different approach. The first thing I would do is set up some sort of filing system in your computer. You will be using the internet to find the majority of your ideas so this will be important. Next, think about things you will definately need:
1. Welcome letter
2. Management system/Rules/Procedures
3. Class list sheet to check off things
4. A small collection of lesson ideas
5. System for tracking students progress
Start searching online for ideas. Save the ideas you like. With items like behavior plans, make sure you really love the system and you believe it fits your setting before putting work into it. Remember, Keep It Simple! I only have my students for 30 minutes at a time. I don't want to lose a minute every time a student has a behavior issue. Save your favorite websites so you can go back to them when school starts.
The more you get done over the summer, the less you have to do while trying to teach. Have a relaxing and productive summer!