You're Hired! Now What? Summer Planning

You found your dream job!  Are you excited to start teaching?  Many of us seasoned teachers who have been where you are remember the exact feeling you have when you get your first job.  It's that exciting feeling where you have butterflies, you are bursting with excitement, and you want to throw up and wonder what do I do next? All at the same time.  Breathe dear teacher friend, I promise it is normal!  Now, let's talk about what you need to do now that you have that job so that you are a rock star in the fall!

I could spend all day giving you tips, but the truth is there is always just one more thing to do on that summer list.  So I want to begin by telling you its okay to BREATHE!  TAKE A BREAK!  ENJOY SUMMER!  Yes, I am screaming that at you in my happiest of voices, because the truth is, we don't say it or do it often enough.  I remember my first summer before I started teaching.  I spent ALL summer buying things, shopping for my room, drawing and redrawing my layouts and plans for the room.  There are plenty of things you can fill your time with for your room. At the end of the day though, it will benefit you to take a break.  You likely just finished college or your certification program, take a vacation and spend some time by the pool with a good book.

So after you have taken that breath to enjoy all your accomplishments, consider diving into these 3 things in the summer before the real hustle of the year starts...


All throughout my college career I collected children's books, of ALL kinds.  However, when it came time to teach, I realized I didn't have what I needed.  Most of the books I collected were too high or too low for my second grade students.  I had quite a few books that were great for read-alouds, but I was lacking in the area of books for my students to read during centers or to take home. Even now, as I find myself about to go down to first grade from a third grade classroom, I have the need to pick up some more content specific books.

You can find these books many places, but it can get really expensive on the pocket book.  Here are the top  places I recommend to find books for a classroom library.

By far, Garage sales seem to be where I find books the cheapest.  The selections available vary at Goodwill stores, but you can often find some good deals there.  I LOVE Dollar Tree for so many reasons...we will discuss them later this summer, but they have great books for kids and of they are of course just a dollar each.  Half Price Books, which is pretty big here in Texas (though they are national) have great deals also.  Half Price Books also has warehouse sales in which you can get books at an even deeper discount. Finally, you might also look at Scholastic.  Scholastic has both an online store for the book clubs, I tend to peruse those and purchase from the student catalogs because they sell based on season and by age group, so it is easy to make sure you are finding things that are pertinent and age appropriate for your kids. Plus, you can buy through the year and use the points you accumulate to buy even more books! The other great thing that Scholastic does is they also have warehouse sales.  I have gone to one of their events before and they also offer books at an even greater discount.  To find these sales you can contact your local warehouse or store, or try looking on their website.

Outside of these stores, I also like to let friends know that I'm collecting books.  Often my friends will give me books their children have grown out of reading and donate them to my room or you can offer to buy them and it's often much cheaper that the book stores.  You might also look on Craig's List or the 5Mile App for books that are being sold at a fair price by former teachers who are retiring.


Secondly, as you plan through your summer I would recommend making a map of your classroom.  Some people may dread this part, for me I love it! I love all things that have to do with decorating a classroom though.  Everything from picking a theme to finding the matching little knick-knacks that have no use and giving them a purpose.  If life could be all chevrons, glitter, and polka dots I would be one happy girl! Oh wait, I AM SO GETTING OFF TRACK!!! (But, if you like that track, check in next week as I talk Decor!)

Okay, so back to planning.  Often times we can't get into our classroom in the summer.  They clean, you can't get your keys, there isn't air conditioning...there is some hurdle!  But if you have had a chance to get a glimpse of your room while interviewing, or if you can get in long enough to see a room, you can get an idea of the floor plan and begin setting it up on paper or via computer.  This is beneficial for a couple of reasons:

1. You can have time before the busyness of the year starts to figure out a layout and really think it over with your needs as far as discipline and age level of kids (it looks different depending on the age of student you teach.) And when you walk in to a room with a pile of desks with all your bags of decor, you know where to start.
2. It will help you begin to make a working list of the things you will need to buy or make for your room as far as shelves, alternative seating, reading areas etc.

So while you are doing this.  If you can get into your room, I'd recommend taking photos of each of the walls and the room as a whole.  That way you have them to reference back to.  If you can't and you have to work off memory, that's no biggie, you can always adjust if it isn't quite what you thought it was when you started out.

There are two great online sites I've found to help you figure out a classroom layout as well.  Both allow you to use their program for free and design your classroom to figure out what floor plan you like best.  The sites are


My final tip for you today is to tell you to CONNECT!  The best thing about this business is that we have each other!  I can't speak for other career paths because this is the only business I've been in, but teachers are a wealth of sharing knowledge.  You will run into teachers who don't share, but I encourage you to keep looking until you find those that do!

I would start with the teachers you are going to work with.  If you can get a meeting together of the teachers you will work with in the fall, DO IT! I would give them a little breather if they just started summer break, but it is completely okay to ask the principal if he can put you in contact with the lead teacher you will work with for the next year.  Or if you can have your team's email addresses if you are more comfortable with that.  I more often see that the teams I have gone on contact me first, but I know it is wishful thinking that this is the case everywhere.  Don't be afraid to reach out though. It is best to connect and learn the dynamics of your team early on, and use your team as a resource.  Ask them if they would be willing to meet at a Starbucks one afternoon or over Chips and Salsa somewhere.

If you do meet here are some questions you can ask your team that may prove beneficial in your summer planning or as you enter the school year...

1.  Do we plan as a team for lessons and how can I best contribute in lesson planning?
2.  Is there a grade level or school wide plan for discipline?
      (Color chart, behavior folder, etc. Do they use CHAMPS or Love and Logic...are there things you need
        to prepare over the summer?)
3. What are some school wide procedures I need to be aware of?
4. What initiatives is our school working on this coming year
    (For instance, my school is really into Thinking Maps and Guided Reading, if you know this in advance
     you can read up on it so it isn't completely new to you.)
 5.  Ask if there is anything your team would recommend you do to prepare for the upcoming year.

Asking these thoughtful questions makes you look prepared and will help you build a team relationship with your new coworkers and it helps your principal to see how seriously you take the job as well.

Another way you can collaborate is to connect online.  Oh how I wish Facebook would have been around when I started teaching 13 years ago! WOW, how it allows us to connect!  If you search groups you will find groups for teachers that are just in your specialty that discuss and share ideas and support each other.  These groups are great because you get teachers in all stages of their journey that can give you advice and tips.

Beth Frueh of Adventures of a Schoolmarm and I have set up a collaborative group for new teachers as a place to collaborate and discuss concerns, questions and ideas as well.  This is a safe place for you to talk and refine your craft as a teacher.  You can search us on Facebook as New Teachers Unite! and ask to join or click here to go to the link and join us.  We would love to meet you and help you in your journey!

I hope that you have picked up some useful tips of things you can work on over the summer!  Please go over to Beth's blog and read a different perspective on this topic for more tips!

And please come back next week as we discuss one of my FAVE topics...CLASSROOM DECOR and how to create a great room without breaking the bank!

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