By Jane Lofton
Back to school time can be overwhelming for both new and seasoned teachers alike. Here are five things you can do to help alleviate stress and get your year off to a great start:
- If your school is fortunate enough to have a teacher librarian, go visit him/her, chat about your goals for the year, and ask for help accomplishing them. By collaborating with your teacher librarian, you have two heads working instead of just one on lesson plans; he/she can take on some of the information literacy, research, and reading selection instruction for you while you focus on the subject content; and he/she can also provide you with resources to use either during class library visits or in your classroom. Even if you don’t have a credentialed teacher librarian, your librarian media specialist is there to help you find resources and to schedule library visits for your students.
- Find a daily start up routine that works for you. Students love video, so starting off with a daily short film can be a great option. Check out PBS LearningMedia’s Daily News Story videos, which also includes supporting teaching materials. Another easy way to locate videos from the PBS LearningMedia site is to browse the Newest Content or Most Popular categories. Other great places to locate videos include YouTube’s Education Channel, TeacherTube, and TED-Ed. If your school allows access to YouTube, spend a little time finding regularly-updated channels you can draw on, such as John and Hank Green’s Vlog Brothers. You can also do a search for videos by going to videos.google.com.
- Get organized and save paperwork with Google Forms: Google forms make capturing information from your students and parents a breeze. They allow you to incorporate short text, long text, multiple choice, checkboxes, scales, and more as response options. You can use them in place of a printed class expectations agreement form, for surveys, in-class self-paced assignments, homework submissions, assessments, and more. You can even create forms you fill in yourself as you assess students. All data is time-stamped and goes to a Google spreadsheet you can then view, sort, and add notes to. There are lots of tutorials online to get you started with Google Forms. Here’s one from KQED in PBS LearningMedia.
In this KQED video tutorial learn about Google forms and spreadsheets, Google Drive tools for collecting, organizing and visualizing data.
- If you haven’t yet taken advantage of social media to build a personal learning network, make this the year you do. Even if you are lucky enough to have a group of local teachers you can network with to share ideas, lessons, and expertise, you can dramatically enlarge the expertise you draw on through online networks. My personal favorite is Twitter. Start by looking for and following hashtags matching your interests. Jerry Blumengarten’s Cybrary Man’s website has a great page of Twitter for beginners tips. And here is KQED's guide to using Twitter in teaching.
- And, no matter how all consuming your work may be on a given day, make sure you schedule at least an hour for some relaxation, pleasure reading, and/or exercise time just for you!
Jane Lofton is a teacher librarian at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, CA. She was 2013-2014 President of California School Library Association and is a member of the American Association of School Librarians' Best Websites for Teaching and Learning Committee. She is a Google Certified Teacher, Google Educator, and a frequent presenter at conferences.
This post was produced in partnership with California School Library Association. California School Library Association (CSLA) is the professional association for the California school library field. It advocates for excellence in school library programs, develops leaders in the school library field, and collaborates with other educational leaders to ensure that all California students are effective, responsible users and creators of ideas and information.