George Lucas Educational Foundation
New Teachers

Sustaining That Back-to-School Momentum

October 18, 2012
Photo credit: cybrarian77 via flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

There's nothing like the excitement students and teachers feel when school starts. Kids are excited to see who's in their class and what types of great things they're going to learn. Teachers spent their summer tweaking lessons and creating brand new ones, and now they're excited about engaging the next set of students sitting patiently in their chairs just waiting to be taught. OK, it might not be exactly like that, but there is an energy at the start of the school year that is already fading as Halloween decorations start to appear in stores.

The longest period between any break is the start of school and the (American) Thanksgiving holiday. All of that energy from the start of the year is gone, and it's easy to slip into a little funk as Turkey Day approaches. Here are some great tips to keep teachers fresh during the Post Back-to-School Doldrums.

1) Continue to Learn

This might sound like the last thing a busy teacher wants to do, but it's important to keep learning new ideas all year, and October is a fine time to start. This doesn't have to be a three-hour workshop or two-day conference. Those are excellent, too, but you could also simply grab a book and read a little bit each day. Find something you think you can learn from and possibly implement during the school year. Here is a recommendation from my PLN: To Understand: New Horizons in Reading Comprehension by Ellin Oliver Keene.

2) Plan a Get-Together with Other Teachers

October is the time of the school year where teachers start to close their doors and bury their heads in work. They make less frequent appearances in the faculty lounge at lunch because they "have to" get work done. Try organizing a nice lunch during the school day where you'll get everyone together and ban all work talk. This is just a get-together for enjoying each other's company and talking about weekend plans or reality TV. You can even invite administration if you want. These get-togethers can be a nice opportunity for staff to meet, greet and bond.

3) Reflect

October should be National EduBlogger's Month, and I'll see what I can do to make that happen. The reason I think October is the perfect month for blogging is because, with so much happening in the first month of school, there tends to be plenty to write about. It's a great time to reflect on what worked and what needs tweaking. Often, teachers do not think about the start of the school year until the following August. October is perfectly placed to think about the start of the next school year and the changes a teacher would like to make. I think everyone should blog, but a private journal would also be great. Reflection of any kind is a teacher's best friend, and October is the perfect time to start.

4) Find Some "You" Time

We can get so wrapped up in prepping for the school year and making sure the class starts off on the right foot that we can easily ignore ourselves. Take some time this October to spend with . . . yourself. Take walks, ride a bike, get a massage or anything else you keep saying you don't have the time to do. Add these events to your calendar, and stick to them. There's nothing weird about scheduling an appointment to hang out with yourself. I do it all the time. This "you" time will make October sail by right into November.

These four things are perfect for the teacher looking to change up the traditional waiting period between early September and Thanksgiving break. Whether you decide to start a new book, take a walk or share your first month of school with the world around you, it's important that teachers find something to battle the Post Back-to-School Doldrums.

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