Ready or not, it's time to get ready to go back to school in many parts of the United States. This means that now is the time to make sure that all of your plans and resources for the upcoming school year are set for when you officially begin. Although many may work with students over the summer, August or September will be a fresh start for a new school year. IEP goals will be updated, so it's important to have yourself ready for a smooth transition.
Check in with families
Get a jump start on the first week of school paper work. Take some time to get in touch with families before school begins. Send an email or letter to everyone at the end of the summer. Ask them for updates on their children and how they enjoyed the time off. Give them a few questions to check in on their kids to assess where they may be when you begin. Remember to be sensitive to those in a multilingual family. Make sure translations are sent to them so they will be able to participate.
When making up questions, focus on the goals for the year ahead. Try to see if they have practiced speech and language exercises during the weeks off. Make sure to leave a place for them to share what activities they have done together to help with the individual child’s needs. Also ask families to think about their kids for a few minutes to do a short interest inventory. Families know their children best and will give you valuable information to create lesson plans that can actively engage students. If this is not the first year that a family is working with you, be sure to change up the questions so they will not rush through them.
Purge out old lesson plans
It’s extremely important to change up your lesson plans each year. While some may work well with kids, you want to try new things and keep the students and yourself excited about activities. If you are not engaged, it will be hard to motivate your students. While things are less hectic, it’s also the perfect time to clean out lesson plan files and get a generalized plan for the upcoming year. Move files that were not a perfect match for kids to a folder to use later if you need them. Keep activities that are able to be switched up and used again for different students. Of course, many may be able to be used again with kids that liked them in a different way by focusing on new speech and language goals. Assess what you have and what you still need, and arrange them in file folders or on your computer. Make a list of what you may still need and try to get those items ready ahead of time.
Don’t forget that the start of the new academic year can be hectic. You will have to assess kids to see what regression has taken place over the summer and possibly add on new children to work with. The more that is done in the weeks before you go back, the easier it will be to focus on kids and their goals and needs.