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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Start the Year Strong Sweepstakes

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UPDATE: The sweepstakes is now closed. We were able to collect some amazing tips, and you can find our favorites in this presentation: 32 Strategies for Building a Thriving Learning Environment. A big thank you goes out to everyone who participated!


Edutopia is celebrating Back to School with a campaign of free teacher resources to help make this your #BestYearEver!

But we also know that the educators and parents in our community are superstars with your own helpful tips to share.

We want to hear from you! Share your tips for starting the year strong, and you could win a Nexus 7 tablet (a $269 value)! We'll also feature the most popular tips in a free, downloadable resource.

Here's how it works:

  • Post your tip in the comments below. Tips should aim to help teachers and parents to start the school year strong.
  • Posting a tip will enter you for a chance to win a Nexus 7 tablet. Make sure it's a real tip though. Any funny business and we'll disqualify the entry. :-)
  • Sorry, there's only one entry allowed per person, but you can add as many tips as you like!
  • On August 27, we'll close the sweepstakes and choose the Nexus 7 winner.
  • The most liked tips (comments with the most thumbs ups) will be promoted on Edutopia and your tip credited to you. Yep...you'll be #edufamous!

What does a good tip look like? Here's an example: Create a QR code with a link to your contact information and post it on your class' door. That way, parents can scan it at their convenience. Great for back-to-school night.

Here's the obligatory rules blurb:

Make sure you enter your tips before the deadline (midnight PDT on August 27, 2014). Please note that there's only one entry per person (you can comment more than once but only one entry will be counted), and the sweepstakes is only open to qualified entrants from the United States and Canada excluding Quebec, ages 18 or older. Void where prohibited. Read the complete rules and regulations.

We can't wait to read your submissions. Let's all make this our #BestYearEver!

Comments (160)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Ms. Leigh Ragsdale's picture
Ms. Leigh Ragsdale
Love Learning, Progressive in My Practice, Innovation, Empowering Students, Explore Your Passions

I start the year off strong by showing kids that I am passionate about life, learning, and each of them. I encourage my students everyday to think outside the box, be unique, and try to open their minds to the limitless future that lies ahead of them! I make them feel important and care about EACH and EVERY one of them! #empower #innovate #inspire #encourage

(9)
Kendra's picture

"Tell me, I'll forget. Show me, I may remember. But involve me, and I'll understand.
-Chinese Proverb

This is what I try to remember as I start my first year teaching. We as teachers shouldn't just lecture or show students the knowledge that we have to offer, but involve them. Imagine their comprehension if you involve them with their learning. They will be more apt to learn from you and also provide you higher level thinking. Students want to know why they are learning what they are and by involving them then they shouldn't have to ask that question. They will start to create ownership of their learning.

dcap's picture

Start your year off strong by looking at your network & identifying your supporters. Find ways to give back-strengthen your relationships; it will make this year the #BestYearEver.

Tatjana Eason's picture

To start the year strong I fully believe setting daily time restraints/scheduling your tasks-at-hand on will keep you very productive. Organization is a powerful tool.

Dhend017's picture

Instead of students walking in to a classroom already decorated, allow the students to decide where to hang posters, pictures, etc. Give them some ownership over what the room looks like, and you start the year off with instant investment.

(2)
samdaleo's picture

My tip would be to write everything down, even if you think you'll remember. Assignments, due dates, test dates..etc..the release of that pressure of having to remember will feel wonderful and will make room in your head for other things!

(1)
Ms. Anu's picture
Ms. Anu
Programs Director/Teacher at iSchool for the Future

To lay the groundwork for student-led discovery and learning we start the year by asking students what they want to learn and do. We do a brainstorming activity to get their ideas for projects and things they want to learn. My job is then to integrate those ideas and requests into the curriculum - which in science is absolutely possible! We also start the year by doing some fun activities that help us identify multiple intelligences in our students. That way both students and teachers can have their #BestYearEver!

(4)
nuria g's picture
nuria g
Social Project Entrepreneur

Student-led and strength-based learning has been the key to the successful transformation and engagement we witnessed in the past year. Another powerful way to make students excited about learning and keep that excitement growing all year long is to use their school environment as a learning ground (or should we say playground :). Place-based teaching allows for unlimited learning opportunities, makes learning relevant and connects students to their community through real-life lessons. Several lesson plans are shared on iSchool's Blog: http://ischoolforthefuture.org/news-and-events-2/

vlewis96's picture

Create your class website or teacher page and send updates with Remind.com to parents and students in order to communicate effectively. Go firm with a system of management and high expectations that students can rise to and parents will support. Plan your lessons with technology and gaming embedded so things do not become redundant and routine. If your class is predictable then chances are you are losing many of your learners. Build a professional learning network and grow outside the sessions in-house and grow alongside your students.

Donna's picture
Donna
Second grade teacher from MA

This idea is not original, and I can't remember where I read it, but I LOVE it. When I send my summer introduction letter to my students, I now include a letter to the parents on the other side. This letter asks parents to write a letter to me - and tell me "In A Million Words or Less" what makes their child special. I tell them that when the first day of school is over, I'll read their letters. I am AMAZED by the thought and LOVE that is poured into these letters. Parents genuinely appreciate the opportunity to tell me all about their little treasures!

(2)
Jenny Siviter's picture

Remember that the most important thing is that you like your students. They can tell when you actually like them as human beings. Listen to them. Let them have input when it comes to classroom procedures and expectations. Build a classroom community that will be a joy for both your students and for you. The happier the teacher with the teaching, the happier the students.

(2)
Melissa Jeppson's picture
Melissa Jeppson
high school social studies teacher

Start the year with a clean slate. Model kindness in the classroom. Raise expectations to challenge your students. Be a good colleague. Share your passion for the subject you teach. Enjoy each day loving your dream job!

(2)
Mark Chen's picture

For the first few days, I tape one playing card (e.g., 7 of hearts) to each desk. As students arrive, I greet them at the door and hand them each a card from a second deck. The students sit at the desk with the matching card. This allows me to have some sort of seating system without using a formal seating chart, while rosters change. This also breaks up friend clusters, who tend to arrive together to class. One variation: write numbers on the desks (tip: use overhead markers, not dry-erase), making sure consecutive numbers are not next to each other. Assign a number to each student as he/she arrives.

(2)
Susan Cotter's picture

Do yourself a favor and get proper sleep. Find joy in the little things and learn to let go of some things. We aren't perfect but we are enough. Find time to focus on one positive trait from your most challenging student or peer. Breathe, take a walk with a friend, and try again tomorrow.

(2)
Pat Melvin's picture

Treat your school secretary & classroom custodian like gold & your school year will be smooth sailing! Afterall...we know who runs the school. :-)

(2)
Burt's picture

Every students starts with a clean slate and no judgments; pick them up wherever they are and take them to the next level. There are no such things as a "math person" or "not a math person"! Everyone can get better if they try and practice!

(2)
Richard Walker's picture
Richard Walker
Fifth grade teacher in Millbrae, California

Enthusiasm. Start the year enthusiastically. Let it show in everything you say and do that first week to your child/students. Smile, let them see you're glad to be back at school and that you're glad they're their with you.

(2)
Michelle Reynolds's picture

I call every parent after the first week of school to share something positive about their child, check in with parents and let them know I am here to help both students with their learning and parents with having a child in 7th grade and I continue to call once every nine weeks minimum just to share a positive and check in. After 20 years in teaching it's still the best way to connect with parents. I also send home a Friday letter each week letting parents know what we accomplished the past week and what's coming up the following week...though this year I will post it to my website instead to save paper (I still will send home paper letters for parents that don't have internet access). Happy 2014-2015 school year everyone! I hope it's a great one for all of you.

(3)
Ms. Anu's picture
Ms. Anu
Programs Director/Teacher at iSchool for the Future

To lay the groundwork for student-led discovery and learning we start the year by asking students what they want to learn and do. We do a brainstorming activity to get their ideas for projects and things they want to learn. My job is then to integrate those ideas and requests into the curriculum - which in science is absolutely possible! We also start the year by doing some fun activities that help us identify multiple intelligences in our students. That way both students and teachers can have their #BestYearEver!

(4)
Ms. Leigh Ragsdale's picture
Ms. Leigh Ragsdale
Love Learning, Progressive in My Practice, Innovation, Empowering Students, Explore Your Passions

I start the year off strong by showing kids that I am passionate about life, learning, and each of them. I encourage my students everyday to think outside the box, be unique, and try to open their minds to the limitless future that lies ahead of them! I make them feel important and care about EACH and EVERY one of them! #empower #innovate #inspire #encourage

(9)

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