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Top Ten Back-to-School Tips for ELA Teachers

Welcome back, teachers! Can I say that already? As we all gear up for another amazing school year, I wanted to share some of the best tools and strategies to make it a successful year for you and your students. Whether you're a seasoned educator or just starting your journey in middle school ELA, I've got you covered with some helpful back-to-school tips. So, let's dive in and get ready to make this school year the best ever!

  1. Establish a positive classroom culture: Set clear expectations and rules from the beginning. Encourage respect, collaboration, and a supportive environment for all students. Check out the Classroom Systems unit I planned to help you design an organized and structured classroom. You'll get everything you need to start the year strong.

  2. Get to know your students: You've heard this a thousand times, but it's absolutely great advice. Take the time to learn about students' interests, strengths, and challenges. Building strong relationships with them will help you better understand their needs and guide you in creating engaging lessons. Try this student-approved digital interest survey resource.

  3. Plan engaging lessons: Movement is key! Get your students up and moving as much as possible. Design lessons that are interactive, hands-on, and relevant to the students' lives. Incorporate technology, group work, and real-world connections to keep students motivated and interested in learning.

  4. Differentiate instruction: Recognize that students have diverse learning styles and abilities. Adapt your teaching strategies and provide various resources to accommodate different needs and ensure all students can succeed. If possible, start off by working with your support staff. Have them suggest activities for differentiation.

  5. Communicate with parents/guardians: Begin the year with a positive communication home for each of your students. This will help set the tone for open interaction with parents. Establish regular communication channels with parents/guardians to keep them informed about their child's progress, upcoming events, and any concerns. Open lines of communication foster a supportive home-school connection. I use this Parent Communication resource to stay in connected and organized.

  6. Promote organization and time management skills: Middle schoolers don't come to us with the best organizational skills. I like to help my students develop effective organizational habits and teach them how to manage their time wisely. You can provide tools, such as planners or digital calendars, to assist them in staying on top of assignments and deadlines. I use the Goal-Setting resource right from the start in my classroom.

  7. Offer support for social-emotional well-being: I LOVE middle school kiddos! But let's be real. Middle school can be a challenging time for students, emotionally and socially. Create a safe space where your students feel comfortable discussing feelings and concerns. Incorporate social-emotional learning activities to support their well-being. Grab your free Getting to Know Me activity.

  8. Provide timely and constructive feedback: It's easy to get caught up in all the things you have to do, but it's important to regularly assess student progress and provide timely feedback to help them understand their strengths and areas for improvement. Offer constructive feedback that is specific, actionable, and focused on growth. I like to use self-grading activities when possible. If you'd like to know more about how I use Google Forms, message me and let's chat.

  9. Collaborate with colleagues: Find your people. I can't stress enough how important this one is. Share ideas, resources, and strategies with other middle school teachers. Collaborating with colleagues can enhance your teaching practices and provide opportunities for professional development. You can learn something from everyone.

  10. Take care of yourself: Remember to prioritize self-care to avoid burnout. Trust me. I've been there. Set boundaries, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and engage in activities that recharge you. Taking care of yourself enables you to be the best teacher you can be for your students.

I hope this helps you have the best school year yet! Join thousands of other teachers who get the weekly Cheat Sheet full of teaching tips, ideas, and lots of FREE resources to make your teaching job easier. Sign up here and download a free English Grammar guide for you and your students. If you're a new teacher, you'll want to grab the starter bundle to save you time and help you establish a well-run classroom.

Happy Teaching!

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