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Time to Pack Your Bag!

Back to school. A vintage backpack full of school supplies in front of a green blackboard.Here in the Midwest, many teachers and students are already heading back to school. That means it’s time for me to start packing my school/teacher bag. There are two ways to pack that bag – one, literally, making sure I have my class list, syllabus, reading materials, other things. The second bag is more figurative – what do I need to do, think about, plan for the upcoming semester. Here are some things I always seem to focus on as I prepare for the coming school year.

Classroom Management
Classroom management is an area where I feel all teachers need to constantly adjust, change and grow with their students. The English Journal article “Lessons about Motivation and Classroom Management” provides some advice and insights from interns in education.

Community Building
It’s important to engage students in thinking about the process of learning and the behavioral and community needs which support a productive classroom environment as described in the ReadWriteThink.org lesson plan “Creating Class Rules: A Beginning to Creating Community.”

Creating/Maintaining a Classroom Library
To help my students get motivated to read, I try to have timeless favorites in my classroom library as well as add new titles. ReadWriteThink.org has two podcast series where I can get book suggestions. Several NCTE journals also review new texts in every issue.

Communication with Families
Teachers and schools communicating with families and families communicating with school and teachers adds to the success of the school year. The Language Arts article “Writing a Relationship: Home–School Journals” describes three teachers’ use of journals in creating and maintaining a two-way dialogue with families and some of the results of this communication.

Technology
Students tend to bring a great deal of knowledge of and enthusiasm for technology. I like to try to keep up with what’s new with technology and also see how I might integrate it into the classroom. The ReadWriteThink.org Strategy Guide series “Teaching with Technology” provides some tips, how to’s and examples.

Find or Become a Mentor
Being provided with a mentor as a teacher is a wonderful benefit. Sometimes, teachers may need to find their own mentor or teachers with whom they can work and learn. The English Journal column “Mentoring Matters” focuses on effective ways to support new English teachers and student teachers and is a great resource to all teachers. Check out a past column!

Staying Current with Trends in Education
By reading others’ posts and participating in discussions on the NCTE Connected Community or on social media, I feel like I can gain easy access to others’ best ideas.

What will be in your bag as you plan for the upcoming semester?