Start Strong - Sept.-Oct. 2016.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Welcome back to another school year of inspiring and innovating! Before you greet your students with a smile and a positive attitude, make sure you’re on track for the best year ever with the following tips for teachers and a bonus five for newbies to the UAE.

1. Plan for success. Lesson planning is the key to less stress, more effective use of class time, and ensuring goals are met. Take some time to review your School Improvement Plan (SIP). Each school sets goals based on data and previous inspection reports, and the more correlated your classroom is with these goals, the better. If your SIP is not readily available, ask an administrator for a copy and explain why.

2. Do an inventory. Check around for resources you can use in your classroom. Many books, manipulatives and other supplies play a game of hide and seek over the school year, and should be rounded up for easy access by all teachers who need them. Also, check storage areas for any extra tables or desks that can be used for centers or workstations in your room.

3. Get inspired. Watch one or two of your favourite “teacher movies” or read books or blogs by famous teachers. Mine are “Freedom Writers” with Hilary Swank, and the short novel “The Water Is Wide” by Pat Conroy and of course, Teach Middle East Magazine. Borrow some ideas from these teaching masters!

4. Rejuvenate yourself. Jet lag from summer travels can leave you less than your best. Make sure you leave enough time to rest, rehydrate and recuperate before the academic year begins. Missing the beginning of school can result in a rocky start for everyone involved.

5. Choose a theme for the year. Make your classroom a place where students feel at home. Giving them a theme helps them identify and engage with the classroom on a daily basis. Even Cycle 2 and 3 students appreciate a little effort put into making an attractive, productive, welcoming space.

Bonus newbie tips:

1. Make sure all your paperwork is complete. Take as many trips to your head office or headquarters as you need in order to finish all steps. Lack of documents equal lack of salary in many cases.

2. Get to know your peers. Take the time to introduce yourself and have a few words with as many co-workers as possible. This will make it easy for you to ask for help if you need it later.

3. Learn your students’ names! Use tricks like seating charts or desk tents to help you. You can even turn it into a game and quiz yourself with the students’ help.

4. Take time to unwind. Enjoy your new adventure. Ask for advice on restaurants and sights to visit in your time off.

5. Communicate with your team. They will be your biggest support at school. Making time to share a cup of coffee and discuss strategies, or even getting to know one another, will help ease the stress.

I hope that everyone is off to a fantastic start and that these tips will give you the edge when preparing and continuing the new school year. Have a great semester!

By Betina Fuentes

Betina is a Cycle 2 teacher at a girls’ school in Al Ain. She and her family are from Florida, USA and are enjoying their time in the UAE. She is looking forward to travelling, meeting other new teachers, and helping her students learn as much as they can.

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