Educators share 10 back-to-school tips

Goodbye summer. Hello school. Check out these back-to-school tips that Idaho EdNews collected from Idaho teachers and administrators:

Homework

I use a service called Remind — it’s a daily homework reminder. Kids have the ability to ask questions in the evening and parents are able to contact the teacher. One word of caution for teachers — set boundaries on times for kids to contact you, or you will get random semicolon use questions at midnight.
— Rebecca Gonzales, an English teacher at Weiser High School

Relationships

Many middle school students don’t necessarily care about the content we teach, but they definitely care about the relationship and knowing we truly care about them. If you can take time to intentionally and sincerely build the relationship, then the tough content will be so much easier and well received as the year progresses.
Kelly Hinthorn, a language arts teacher at Boundary County Middle School

Routine

Having an after-school routine at home is just as important to being successful in school. A routine such as no screen time after dinner and quiet story time right before bedtime helps with sleeping patterns at night.

  —Jen Wright, principal at Notus Elementary 

Goals

I recommend each teacher set one and only one goal they can accomplish daily. This goal needs to be tracked and logged on a daily basis.

— Chad Williams, Ririe Superintendent/Junior/Senior High School Principal

Stress

I would suggest for teachers to think about their self-care strategies and stress management techniques.

— Melanie Koch, principal at Boise’s Morley Nelson Elementary School

Ideas

You have probably been reading and thinking about trying something new in your classroom. Do it! There may be adjustments to make, but don’t give up if it isn’t perfect the first time you implement it. Sometimes ideas take some adjusting to fit with your style of teaching and your new class of students. I am going to try menu-style learning for my third- through fifth-grade students to offer more choice. I haven’t tried this before, but feel that it will help to engage and encourage my students to pursue their interests. I am planning and preparing as much as possible with the understanding that more than likely changes will need to be made. I won’t know what those changes are until I jump in.

— Kellie Taylor, K-5 engineering teacher at West Ada’s Galileo STEM Academy

Learn

My advice for both parents and teachers is to help our youth learn how to learn. This may require a shift away from knowledge based learning and moving towards helping students become professional learners (see Dall’Alba & Barnacle, 2007; Dall’Alba, 2009). We keep saying we want students to become life-long learners, but then only teach them how to regurgitate very narrow and specific sets of data or information.
— Joshua Wilson, principal at Madison’s South Fork Elementary

Organization

Have your classroom set up and ready to go before you have to report. You will not get enough time the week before school starts. Have lesson planning done as well. That way, you can have the weekend before school starts to enjoy and just breathe.

— Tracy Poff, a language arts teacher at West Ada’s Central Academy High School

Technology

I would recommend not having tech-heavy lessons for the first day or two, or if you do, be sure to have a back-up strategy that will need nothing but a blackboard and chalk. No matter how much you’ve tested, warmed up, and practiced with your technology, once everyone is in the building there’s a very good chance systems won’t work properly and bugs will need some ironing out. If this doesn’t derail you and you don’t miss a beat, kids will know you mean to seriously teach them, and it can help set the tone for an entire year.

— Dale Gerrard, a Japanese teacher at West Ada’s Centennial High School    

Purpose

Students first. Remember your purpose!

— Andy Johnson, Middle and High School Director, Riverstone International School