George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Back-to-School With Pinterest

August 5, 2015 Updated August 4, 2015

I recently saw an image on a social media site that joked that the month of August is like one long Sunday night for teachers. If you’re like many teachers, the back-to-school jitters have begun -- that Monday morning is coming. The last days of summer are winding down. Are you ready for school?

My recurring August nightmare is of me standing in front of rows of nameless students. I don’t have my roster, my classroom is not yet organized, and I haven’t looked at my course materials. In my dream, I haven’t even thought about planning for the school year.

This summer is different, however. This summer I nipped those teacher worries in the bud by turning to social media site, Pinterest, for help getting ready.

It wasn’t long ago that I thought of Pinterest merely as a site for hobbyists, aspiring chefs, and party planners. I had actually been using it for those purposes. And then I figured that if I could search for baseball-themed centerpieces, why not try using search terms for my educational purposes? I used search terms like “classroom management” and “classroom organization.” I started a board called “Educational Resources.” I discovered a solution to making class notes and printed handouts readily available to students who have been absent -- all thanks to Pinterest.

Pinterest is loaded with resources for teachers. It’s also a powerful tool for gearing up for back-to-school. A quick search on Pinterest, and you’ll be inspired by Linda Kardamis’s blog post on Teach 4 the Heart, where she discusses the 9 things to think about when setting up your classroom. Or maybe you’ve been stressing over how to better organize your lesson plans? There are hundreds of suggestions for that on Pinterest. The best teachers share, and share for free. Blogger “Marg D” has one of the most well-organized classrooms I’ve seen, with binders and boxes and bins, oh my!

This is why Pinterest can be so resourceful, especially this time of year -- you can search and collect resources and photos of whatever gets you inspired for the new school year. For example, because someone pinned a photo of her graphic syllabus, a teacher named Nikki Owens has completely redefined the high school syllabus for me. A pin of hers motivated me to rework my syllabus into a graphic presentation, and weeks before I would normally start that project. Perhaps more importantly, the availability of great resources on Pinterest has helped me to better articulate and refine my pedagogical goals for the year, and left me feeling reinvigorated. Sometimes all we need is an idea, or a “share.”

So wouldn’t it be refreshing for the month of August to be about getting inspired? So often it can mean feeling that partial dread for the work that lies ahead -- the inevitability of Monday morning. Pinterest is a great way to ease back into our preparations for the school year. It can mean inspiration and a sense of readiness. I recommend starting off with brief searches (while you’re at the poolside, or waiting in a doctor’s office). Do a search for, say, study habits, and pin the top 10 pins you find that spark ideas for the way you want to teach them this year. Teachers share everything, from lesson plan ideas to how to decorate your classroom. I recommend checking out a helpful post with Pinterest tips by Edutopia blogger Vicki Davis, who has suggestions on how to follow boards and create your own.

Knowing that you have a Pinterest board with ideas that you will be able to develop in the coming weeks can mean relief from back-to-school jitters. It can also mean a new personal learning network you can develop throughout the school year. This summer, let social media work for you, so that you can rest easy and really enjoy your last days of summer.

And don’t forget to share how you get prepared for back-to-school.

This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we've preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer's own.

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