10 Back to School Tips for An Awesome Year!

“The best thing a human being can do is to help another human being know more.”- Charlie Munger

The new school year is approaching fast. I will miss spending all day with my toddler, Savvy, but I am looking forward to trying new ideas with my elementary students. I work with all grades at my school and this is my second year with this group of students. I am now equipped with new procedures, web tools, activities, grading strategies, and classroom management strategies to make this an even better year than last year! I also am excited with new ways to transform the learning space and some strategies for strengthening relationships with students and their guardians.  I have taught now for over 2 decades in more than 20 countries with learners of all ages and the 10 tips below have helped me be an effective and energized teacher. I hope you will find them useful as you begin your year with new learners! Scroll down to see the infographic with these 10 tips!

💡Discover more ways to integrate technology effectively by taking one of my fully accredited online courses or get one of my books!

Tips and Resources

  • Walk in motivated– You will have the rest of the year to get bogged down, stressed, and in the dumps. What’s wrong with walking in believing you can really make a difference to your learners? Click here for resources to avoid teacher burnout.
  • Engage parents– Contact parents  with positive messages about their children to let them know you believe in their children. Some great tools for engaging parents include Class Dojo (this is what many teachers at my school currently use and love), Bloomz, Remind, Class Tag, and Gsuite for Education Apps and Tools. For parent digital newsletters you can try Buncee, Canva, or Smore. Also, feel free to copy and and edit my parent newsletter as you like! I share in this post how to Find more great tips here!
  • Change the classroom environment– In chapter 24 of The 30 Goals Challenge, I talk about different ways to change your classroom to enhance the learning. Take students outside, use learning stations, use mobile devices, or makerspaces. Encourage learners to take part in creating their own learning environments:
    • Have them graffiti on butcher paper on the wall
    • Have them post their inspirational quotes on the wall
    • Have them help design the bulletin board, calendars, or your virtual learning spaces!
  • Get to know your students– I teacher over 400 students and getting to know their names can be tricky. Here’s a post with great tips to learn their names and help others learn their names. It is also important students learn about each other. Digital storytelling and culturally responsive teaching is a great way to do this!
  • Be preventative and proactive when it comes to classroom management– My class is full of routines, procedures, expectations, student leadership roles and responsibilities. Building relationships between students and also with me really helps maintain my classroom. Classroom management tips and strategies are discussed in chapter 19 of The 30 Goals Challenge.
  • Unbind yourself from textbooks– You know what your students need to learn so feel free to pick and choose what will work in the book and try having students be the main content creators of materials. Find more than 20 strategies to engage learners with the knowledge in the textbook here.
  • Build a teacher survival kit– I knew a teacher, who carried in her purse, masking tape, scissors, a small cushion ball, and other supplies for emergencies. This was her kit, which made her flexible to change her lessons or get kids moving in case of fire drills, student restlessness, etc. I talk about this more in detail in chapter 9 of The 30 Goals Challenge. Find more resources here!
  • Cultivate relationships– Check out my icebreakers for children and icebreakers for teens and adults. Find plenty more get to know you activities on my Icebreakers page.
  • Integrate technology effectively– Pedagogy first then technology. Find more tips on my page, Survival Tips for Integrating Technology and my post, Putting the “T” in STEM! 60+ Resources for Teaching Children with Technology! When we use technology it should:
    • Support students ownership of learning
    • Allow students to be content creators
    • Engage and motivate students to be continuous learners
    • Support effective communication, especially with peers worldwide
  • Have fun!– Students should leave your class feeling that math, science, reading, writing, etc. can be fun so that they continue the exploration and learning outside your class! Check out my posts about coding, creating digital games, TPR, or using games in the classroom!


Challenge: Try these ideas in your classroom and share your tips with us in the comments!

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Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) is an award winning digital innovator, an international speaker/consultant, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning with EdTech Missions, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught English language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like the US Embassy, UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, ISTEK Turkey, and Venezuela TESOL. She has been recognized by several organizations and publications as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Two of the projects she co-organized were shortlisted for ELTons, #ELTChat and the Virtual Round Table Language and Technology online conference. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Her greatest joy is being the mother of baby Savannah and Rosco the pug. Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via Twitter (@ShellTerrell), Facebook.com/ShellyTerrell, and on her blog, TeacherRebootCamp.com, which has won several awards and recognitions as one of the top ESL, Edtech and Elearning blogs. Find over 400 of her slide presentations at https://www.slideshare.net/ShellTerrell/presentations


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