Everyone is preparing to go back to school! Are you ready for the new school year or were you just assigned a new prep?

Here’s some advice on how to make “Back to School” less overwhelming.

  1. Set Unit Goals.
    • For every unit, plan to utilize 1-2 STEM projects. If your units are tiny, then merge some together. Make sure you plan so that you feel like you can accomplish STEM and your traditional materials.
    • Decide which topics you want to include in projects, and research projects and kits that accomplish mastering these topics. I would choose topics that you feel comfortable teaching with less direct instruction or that your kids have trouble mastering. Hands-on STEM activities often help students understand and apply difficult concepts.
    • Keep a running list of the chosen topics mentioned above and include links to activities that cover these topics for future reference. Add the topics with the links to activities to your flexible calendar.
  2. Plan Ahead
    • After you set unit goals, go ahead and make a PO (purchase order) for your supplies. Budgets get reset, taken away, and altered as the year goes on so go ahead and request as much as possible at the start of the year. This way, if the budget dies you don’t have to change your plans. If you can’t purchase ahead of time, at least you have everything ready to submit amidst the throes of the school year.
  3. Challenge Yourself
    • Try something new! Plan at least 1 new idea to implement every quarter. I’m talking a big idea like using alternate assessments for a final grade, a complete hands-on project, or inviting a STEM professional in to teach a concept.
    • Quit taking work home every day. Challenge yourself to structure your day to leave work at work. Are you grading too much? Are you utilizing your planning time? Find areas to cut and areas to enhance. Just don’t burn yourself out the first month of school.

Lastly, take care of yourself by saying “NO!” politely to ridiculous requests. If you have 4 high school science preps, use prepared kits to help yourself out and say NO! to that urge to directly teach your students everything. Remember, students learn in a variety of ways, plus you want to prepare them for a diverse workforce that requires people to soak in knowledge using various means. Also, say NO! when someone asks you to help them plan if you yourself are overwhelmed. You can’t help others unless you have yourself and your own students covered first. If you have a collection of materials already organized, hand that to them and tell them to keep a list of questions you can address at another time. Plus, if you try to help others first your mind will be stressing about your own curriculum plans and the other teacher won’t get your best, sound of mind advice.

Thumb through our store, and check out our STEM kits. Take the pressure to directly off of yourself and place the love of learning on the student. Trust me, the kits are fun, engaging, and rich in content.

Enjoy what little summer you have left!

-Xandy Whitman