Five Things Teachers Should Do Before the Summer Ends

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We are midway through July and the feeling of dread is starting to set in for many teachers, for they know that in a couple of weeks their summer vacation is over. Professional development is coming up, soon after that, students return. Even if you love your job as a teacher, you will probably find yourself bemoaning the end of your break.

Regardless, the end is coming, and you can fight that sense of dread by being prepared for school to start back. 

So, what should teachers do before they go back to school?:

1.       Lesson Plan

One of the biggest lifts on teachers is preparing lessons night in and night out. Turning in lesson plans is a daily drain on energy and valuable time outside of school. Why not prevent this headache by having your lesson plans finished? While you have the time, it’s probably a good idea to create or edit your lessons; after all, you will have much less time during the year.

2.       Call your future students’ parents

If you are lucky enough to work at a school that gives you a class list before the school year starts, then you should use it. Building relationships with parents is a lot easier when you are not calling home for bad behavior in your class. Use the class list, call parents, and establish a connection before you need to use it.

3.       Organize your classroom

Many teachers wait until the week before school starts to decorate and organize their classroom. It’s okay to wait; however, it is much easier to create effective classroom decorations and systems when you are not pressed for time. Additionally, you have more time to internalize the layout and systems of your classroom, so you are better able to articulate them to students.

4.       Prepare your sleep cycle

The biggest shock to the system for teachers at the end of the summer is the reality of waking up at 6:30 a.m. in order to get to school and prepare for students. This doesn’t have to be a shock. You can start training your body to rise at your regular wake up time now, and you probably should. You can either gradually push up your wake up time or rip the bandage off and simply start waking up at your normal time. Just remember to keep yourself awake the whole day as you won’t be able to nap when school starts back.

5.       Enjoy yourself

While it is important to do some work to make sure you have less work during the year, you also want to make sure you are enjoying the end of your break. Whatever makes you fulfilled as a person, you should do it while you have the free time and no other obligations.

Comment

Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: My Thoughts on the Supreme Court Nomination as a Black Man and Principal

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Today I find myself between a rock and a hard place. Where do I stand on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court? I have two perspectives – that of a black man and that of a school principal. Both equally critical and both very different views.

As an incredibly proud black man I know must lead and be a leader. This is an honor that I take very serious. Brett Kavanaugh has been selected as the President’s nominee as the next Supreme Court Justice – handpicked by the racist and bigot that currently occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It is virtually impossible for me ever to support anything that man puts his hands on.

However, when it comes to this particular choice, this particular man, possibly our country’s next Supreme Court Justice, I have to say, we have some professional converging interests. Kavanaugh supports school choice. So do I. As the principal of a charter school in Indianapolis, Indiana, my goal is to help provide a high-quality place of learning with highly-skilled educators who are ready to ensure our children are learning – especially our black and brown babies. I have the distinct pleasure of leading an all-boys school filled with predominantly black and brown young men, who look to me as someone who represents what’s possible. They hang onto my every word and solicit my advice – sometimes with trepidation because they aren’t used to someone actually being able to help them. It is my honor to serve them daily.

They want to know how I feel on certain subjects – hate and bigotry among them. Keep in mind that I have students who fear deportation of family members because of the current President of the United States. I have students who fear for their lives as black youth because of the current President of the United States. I have vulnerable eyes of children who look at me everyday as a person, a man, who they need to see get it right – make the right choices, have the right mindset, support the right people. They need me to represent for all of us.

So I’m torn – as a black man and as a supporter of school choice. How and where does my allegiance lie? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not blind to the fact that Mr. Kavanaugh has a record for rulings that have upheld racial and workforce discrimination – much like the person who nominated him for this position to govern the land. It is quite clear that outside of school choice, Kavanaugh has a contempt for fundamental human rights for people other than white people. And that, I absolutely cannot agree with.

As a black man, Kavanaugh worries me. As a principal, he seemingly supports the same thing I do – school choice for all.

During Kavanaugh’s speech after being nominated, he said: “In the 1960s and 70s, she taught history at two large African American public high schools in Washington, DC., McKinley Tech and H.D. Woodson. Her example taught me the importance of quality for all Americans.” That touched my heart because I agree. Quality for all Americans is important. Being able to substantially impact those from underrepresented and under-served communities is something that I not only support, but I want someone in the U.S. Supreme Court who does as well.

So here I stand – between a rock and hard place – facing this difficult decision, walking this fine line because whether I decide to support him or not, one of those decisions will go against a significant aspect of my life. Each one I feel is extremely important to who I am as a person. There is a quote from Aron Ralston’s book Between a Rock and a Hard Place, that says, “When we find inspiration, we need to take action for ourselves and our communities. Even it means making a hard choice or cutting out something and leaving it in your past.” I ask myself what I will cut out and leave in the past? Will it be my disdain and hate for #45 as a black man because of who he is, or will be my passion for seeing school choice and charter schools be the lay of the land in education?

I appreciate being in a place of significance that my choice actually matters. And while I am conflicted, this is not a decision that I can take or make lightly. I must do so with diligence and honor. My students are watching.

Comment

David McGuire

Mr. McGuire is a middle school teacher in Indianapolis, Teach Plus Policy Fellow, and currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Indiana State University for Educational Leadership. Driven by the lack of having an African American male teacher in his classrooms growing up, David helped launched the Educate ME Foundation, which is geared towards increasing the number of African American male teachers in the classroom. A born and raised Hoosier, he is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for all students in Indianapolis. He describes his educational beliefs as a reformer grounded in the best practices of traditional public schools, where he was mentored by strong leaders. David graduated from Central State University with a degree in English and also holds an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.

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