It's college graduation season in America.
Each spring, Americans celebrate the years of hard work students have put into finishing college with elaborate commencement exercises at storied universities across the U.S.
For tomorrow's teachers, graduation marks the completion of formal training and the start of the countdown to your first day in front of a classroom. Do you know when school starts? Do you know when teachers and staff are due to report to work?
Depending on the state and the school, the summer break may be longer than you think. For example, Maryland is the most recent state to elongate the summer break – mandating that all public schools begin after Labor Day to support the state's tourism industry. Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia already mandate the longer summer. Similar legislation is being debated in Alabama, Arizona, Iowa, Rhode Island, Delaware, Texas, and Ohio.
The summer break after graduation is a great time to reflect on your recent accomplishment and prepare for the next phase of life. Whether you use your free time to travel, volunteer, or rest, don't forget to use some of that time to prepare for the challenges of teaching.
Here is a list of five things to do between now and that first day:
- Familiarize yourself with the curriculum, learning outcomes, and learning materials (textbooks, supporting materials from a publisher, required readings, etc.) for your new district.
- Introduce yourself to the school leadership and grade level team members to convey personal interests and goals, and to discuss best practices and lessons learned from others. Are there opportunities for you to have a mentor teacher? Do team members plan as a team or individually?
- If possible, meet with your mentor to identify where he/she can best support you. How often will you two meet? Will he/she co-teach with you?
- Visit your classroom to familiarize yourself with the layout and come up with a plan to make it yours. Consider if you will need outside help and resources to do so.
- And, of course, figure out where you're going to live. You'll likely spend long hours at school, so some place close by without an overly long commute is best, if possible. Do you want a roommate? Will you bike to school or use public transportation?
By all means, relax over the summer. But also dedicate a few hours every week to becoming a teacher. And one last thing: you might want to purge some things from Instagram and Twitter. You don't want your new students (or their parents) to stumble across your spring break pictures. Just saying.