Planning for the New School Year

Hey, y'all. Are totally lost about planning for next school year? I feel your pain. But it doesn't have to be stressful! 

First, you need to know what you're going to teach. 
Starting off the year normally includes going over rules and procedures, getting to know each other, and creating a positive classroom community. Distance learning should be no different. Your rules and procedures will look very different, but your overall goal will be the same. 

Then, you need to know how you're going to teach these things. 
If you're starting out online, what platforms are you using? Seesaw? Google Classroom? Class Dojo? I'd suggest a whole class Zoom session on the first day (at a minimum) to meet and greet and explain online learning expectations. 

If you're starting in person, plans for keeping supplies separate and social distancing should be part of your back to school plan. For ideas on organizing student supplies, check out this blog post. Given the current situation with COVID, I would highly suggest teaching your students how to use the online tools you plan to utilize as soon as possible in the event your school has to begin online learning fulltime again. 

And if your school is doing a combination of the two (A/B days or morning/afternoon groups), then you'll need to make a plan for how you're going to implement that. Are you going to do the direct teach when your students are with you and use their at-home learning time for independent practice, or are you going to use a flipped model and have students learn the bulk of the material at home online and practice these skills when they are in class with you? Both models have merit, so you'll need to choose which one works best with your grade level of students. 

Personally, with k-2 students, I would use my class time with them to do the direct teach and guided practice, then send the independent work home with them. I'd use our district online programs to reinforce learning as well. 

Finally, relationships and mental health are going to need to be a bigger priority now than in years past.
If you're reading this, you probably already focus on building relationships and a classroom community each year. This year, these things will need to take precedence in order to make sure you and your students are able to stay in contact should we have to go completely online again. Daily check-ins with students, whether you're in person or online, will need to be a priority. You can use a Google form (which would be super easy to start in person and keep up if you end up going online), a set of flip cards with different emotions on them, a daily graph on flip chart, dry erase board, or pocket chart, a Flipgrid forum page, or any other brilliant idea that works for you. 

I don't think there's going to be any one right way to do this next school year. With all the things up in the air and all the different options for returning, we're going to have to be prepared for just about anything. When our school shut down in March, I immediately wished we had had at least one day to make sure my students knew how to get logged into every single platform before we closed. They had had practice with some of the platforms, but there were others that were much more challenging, and there were technical problems that I hadn't anticipated on the families' ends. Now that I know, I can prepare my students to be able to login no matter what device they are working on. 

For a calendar of resources to get you started, check out these planning guides. There's one for kindergarten, first grade, and second grade, full of ideas for the whole school year. 

I know this was a lot to think about, but I hope it helps to bring you some clarity to this weird time we're living in. Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for more  ideas coming soon. Have a wonderful week and stay sweet!