Next Year on the Brain

I don’t know about you, but spring around here is filled with thinking about caseloads for the upcoming school year. From projection lists to IEP meetings to talk about placement, my mind starts shifting in early April from the current school year to the upcoming year. While I’m constantly redirecting my thoughts to my current caseload of students there are a handful of things I do between April and May each year to make August smooth sailing. Here are my tips and tricks for prepping now for the next school year. 

Make a List, Check it Twice.

If you’ve read any of my blogs, you know that I’m a sucker for lists. Have a list that you start detailing everything you prep for upcoming school year. This list should be fluid and adaptable to each year and the students you are anticipating. Haven’t got a clue what next year looks like? Start by making a list that isn’t reliant on your caseload, but rather lists all of the things you do to prep each year for the new school year. I’ve given you a sample of my list. Feel free to use it as a starting point and modify it to meet your needs. 

Start Scheduling Now

I know you don’t have all the pieces you need to start making your schedule for next year. However you do know when the school day starts, ends, what time recesses are, when lunches are, passing times, etc. Make a master blank schedule now. I make a master schedule in Excel or Google Sheets and calculate my schedule using 5 minute increments. Do this for each grade level and team you work with. Save your master schedule to use as a base to use for scheduling each year. Then, once you know the specific needs of your students and the details you need for scheduling, add them into the Excel/Google Sheets schedule you’ve made to see exactly where you students need to be and when. I do this by individual student and add in exactly when they do math, reading, specials, related services, etc. Once you know the teachers or team you are working with, email them and ask for their schedule as soon as they have it ready so you can hit the ground running. Do the same with your related service providers and any other person that uses your room and sees your students. 

Hint: Need more help in the classroom but you can’t convince your admin? Make a spreadsheet to show them exactly where you need help and why you need it. Nothing helps your case more than hard evidence and data! 

Pack Smart

Nothing stinks more than packing up your entire classroom just to unpack it again two months later. It’s got to get done, so use your time wisely and be smart about what you are doing. 

  • Clean house. We as special education teachers keep anything and everything. I have a 3 year rule. If I haven’t used it in 3 years (a full cycle of students since I loop with students for grades K, 1, & 2) I toss it or donate it. 
  • Color code your packing. For me, reading is red, math is blue, visual supports are yellow, and sensory supports are green. Use colored markers to label your boxes for free color-coding. 
  • Put like items together or pack by cabinet shelf and label your boxes as such
  • Make packing lists and tape them to the outside of the boxes so you know exactly where everything is.
  • Make a pile of all the things you’ll need over the summer to prep and plan. 
  • Make a ‘first to open’ box for items on your desk, most used supplies, and cleaning supplies so you are ready to go when you start unpacking

Plan your PD & Summer Reading List

First, let me just say that if you don’t ask, the answer is always no. I asked last year if we could bring someone in to do real, relevant professional development for our special education teachers. Surprisingly, my special education director was open to the idea. We gathered some names of presenters, got some session offerings and pricing, and settled on having Sasha come present to our district. We used grant money to pay for it and opened it up for FREE to local districts. We loved it so much and my special education director got so much great feedback, we’re doing the same thing this year. Just ask. You never know the answer until you do. Even if it’s a no, at least you tried!

Get a reading list together and make a wish list on Amazon on what you are planning on reading this summer. Ask around and see what your friends and colleagues recommend. Consider doing a book study together, or share what you’ve read (if it’s good or what to avoid if it’s bad) with your team. I’ve got my summer reading list going already.  

The More You Think…

The more you think about next year, start keeping track of your plans. Create pintrest boards for each area of your classroom you plan on tackling or make lists (shocking, right?) of what you want to change up and how you want to do it. Take a hard look and determine to get done what you can before schools out. The more you prep now, the better off your summer and back to school prep will be!

Jen Koenig

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