What can I do over the summer to prepare for my first teaching job?

Back to School Tips for Irish Class and SET Teachers

The summer is an important time for teachers to rest and recharge in advance of a hectic school year. However, after taking a well-deserved beak, like many teachers, I try to do a bit of preparation in August to get organised for the coming school year. Whether you are a new teacher getting ready to start your first-year teaching, or an experienced teacher who is changing class, there are many things you can do now to make September less stressful and to get off to the best possible start to the new school year.

Here are the things that I find most useful to do to get prepared for September. When I started out teaching, I didn’t know what to prioritise and would have liked a list like this to help me get started:

  • If you will be using a particular publisher’s scheme and if you have a copy of your booklist, order free sample copies of the textbooks you will need from the publishers (they usually have an email address of the rep you can contact for this on their website). Set up an online account with the publishers of the schemes you will use so you can access their online resources and your books digitally from day 1.
  • Plan what you will do on the first day of school. You want to set the tone for the rest of the year so it is good to be organised and to have activities and games planned that will help the children to settle in, and for you to get to know them. You may wish to have a chart ready where you can write the rules, rewards and sanctions you will decide with your class. I would always agree the class rules with the children on day 1. You can also make a list of the classroom procedures/ routines that you want to teach/ revise to the children e.g. lining up, putting their hand up to speak etc.
  • If you have your class list, you can start to make any resources that you know you will definitely need. For instance, for the younger classes make name cards for their desks or whatever reward system you wish to use.
  • If you have access to your new room, then it would be worth going in to see what resources are available and to make a list of things you will need. You will usually have an art and craft budget (check with the principal what the school’s policy is first) to spend on things you need. It is worth noting however, that you as the teacher are the greatest resource in your classroom. It doesn’t have to be all bells and whistles and you don’t need to spend hundreds of euro or hours every evening creating resources. Rather than buying/ creating resources, could you play a game/ do an activity that uses something that you already have? Can you use the outdoor or school environment to teach the same concept without having to make/ buy another item?
  • You might also want to start to organise your class layout (will you have groups, rows, pairs) and to make sure there are enough tables and chairs for the number of children on your class list (the class using the room previously may have had fewer children). I would always start the year with just backing paper and a boarder on my display boards and fill them up with actual material that we have learned or the children’s work as the year progresses. You don’t have to have full walls or beautiful displays on day (or even term 1).
  • Get your long-term plans done or started! In my first year teaching I totally underestimated how long it takes to do these for the first time and it was very stressful trying to do them once school had started. Even if you are new to a school and want to wait to see the school’s Plean Scoile to figure out exactly what content to include, you can still get the bulk of the plans done now as most sections such as aims and curriculum objectives will be the same regardless. On my website, I have a free, editable long term planning template, as well as fully completed, editable sample long term plans for all class levels, and sample plans for SET and EAL
  • Sign up for CPD opportunities early as the more popular ones can fill up very quickly. If you will be teaching in SET, an autism class, or will have children in your class with SEN, the NCSE have extremely useful CPD courses on most areas of SEN for which sub cover is provided as they are on during the school day.

I hope you found this post helpful. If you have any other tips for preparing for back to school, leave a comment below!

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