Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Back-to-School Tips for Teachers

Photo: audio-lucie-store-it
While students around the country probably have a few days -- or a couple of weeks -- remaining of their summer vacation,  most teachers have started back to school well in advance of their students. These first days back generally include scheduled meetings, but this is also the time that teachers can take advantage of the calm of student-free days to set up their classroom and finish their preparations for the coming year. There are many helpful websites with back-to-school suggestions for teachers. Here are a few that we recommend.

The National Education Association website has resources geared especially for new teachers, including advice on setting up the classroom, dealing with parents, and a list of supplies that every teacher should have on hand. Some of these tips will likely be useful for veteran teachers, as well.

Are you planning a classroom project that requires special supplies? Or are you teaching in an economically disadvantaged area where even basic classroom items are lacking? Take a look at Donors Choose, where "Public school teachers post classroom project requests which range from pencils for poetry to microscopes for mitochondria." These requests are listed on the website and donors can select a project to fund. When the funding goal for a particular request is met, the materials are shipped to the classroom. The site states that they are able to successfully fund 70% of teacher requests. Note that Donors Choose does not accept "in kind" donations but includes links to sites that do.

LD Online has a list of "to-do" items for special education teachers, but we think one item on that list should be a must for all teachers -- ask if any of your students have an IEP or 504 plan. Make sure you have ready access to a copy of this plan, important for all students but potentially life-saving for a student who has a 504 plan because of a medical condition or allergy. For reasons we have never understood, some schools keep these documents locked away with the guidance office, nurse, or elsewhere. Privacy laws do not require this and, in fact, all special education laws (IDEA and Section 504) require that these documents be provided to teachers who will be charged with implementing them. Read this document, know what the student needs and what is required in the classroom.

Whether or not you have already started your school year, we wish you a good one. And if you have a few days yet before you go back, we hope you enjoy the rest of your summer vacation!

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