Classes begin next week at one of the two colleges I teach for. As an adjunct, preparing for the semester can be a gamble. You don’t want to begin too soon in case your class is cancelled, but if you start too late it’s hard to catch up. Being prepared is the number one thing that gives me confidence as a teacher, but I also struggle with procrastination. So what to do? I turned to my friend and fellow writer/teacher, Katie Ionata, for help.
Katie and I share an office, so I’ve personally witnessed her organization skills. I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing her teach, so I know she prepares great classes to engage her students. Recently I asked Katie how she prepares for the semester. These are the tips she gave me:
- Make a big list of everything you need to do before school starts. Then try to do a few things each week, starting in August. Breaking a long list into manageable portions makes it feel less daunting.
- Write or revise your syllabi.
- Proofread/have someone read your syllabi.
- Submit syllabi for copying.
- Set up Blackboard or Webstudy (or whichever online learning platform your school uses) sites for your classes.
- Review new readings.
- Complete lesson plans for Weeks 1 and 2.
- Start thinking about the first paper assignment.
I’m proud to say I’m off to a good start so far. My syllabi are finished and off to the copier and I designed a new assessment and writing sample prompt for the first class. I’m going to work on subsequent lesson plans next. Another way I’ll improve my planning and organization this year is to record paper due dates on my calendar and block off extra time for grading. So although it’s still 90 degrees outside and seems too soon for the “fall” semester to begin, I’m ready.
How do you get ready for a new semester or school year? How do you stay organized throughout the term? Please share any tips to add to Katie’s list.
Published by elizabethhelenspencer
Elizabeth is an English teacher and a writer of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. She is a graduate of Temple University’s MFA program, where she served as Assistant Fiction Editor for the first issue of TINGE Magazine. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from C4: Chamber Four Lit Mag, Friends Journal, Ragazine, and Almost 5Q. Elizabeth lives in Philadelphia, where she co-runs The Palabras Reading Series. When not writing or teaching, Elizabeth practices yoga and volunteers with local animal rescue group Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).
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2 thoughts on “Back to School for Teachers”
I overplan. I made a huge list and I’m ticking items off to the last second. I’m much more organized this year though and with less time to do it. I guess it just gets easier every year. In Miami, the humidity makes it feel like it’s 120 degrees and you melt as soon as you walk out the door.
Thanks for sharing, Lisa! Overplanning is definitely better than underplanning. I hope your school year gets off to a great start!