For most parents and students, “back to school” means shopping for new clothes, breaking the wacky summer sleeping habits, catching up on summer reading assignments, and shopping for everything on that endless supply list.
That’s what’s happening this week across McKinney, as students from first grade through 12th grade prepare for Monday’s beginning of the MISD school year.
But the teachers’ school year has already started.
That’s because a teachers’ “back to school” routine is quite different. Not only is this a time to prepare for new students, set up the classroom and start making lesson plans to cover the necessary curriculum, but there are a few more things you might not know. For instance, MISD teachers also were required to take classes at Academy Sports and Authority to prepare themselves for the upcoming year.
“Physically, its just getting used to the schedule again like getting up early and a tight schedule where you are 100 percent on the go with kids instead of summer which is easy going and mentally is going to academy,” said Lisa Paine, a fifth-grade teacher at Finch Elementary School. “Motivational speakers like Eric Jenson come talk to us to help engage students and help students that are at risk and we get strategies and motivational speakers to help get us excited and give us curriculum updates.”
Although teachers and students have different schedules for the same occasion, they do have a few things in common.
“Students are working on summer reading while Teachers are working on their material,” said Joshua Helms, who teaches AP World History at McKinney High. “Students are buying supplies and so are teachers. Parents are making students clean their rooms — the one time during the year — and teachers are setting up their room. “Students are mentally preparing for seven new classes and teachers are preparing multiple preps and for all those class periods. Students are learning new procedures and so are the teachers — and the list goes on.”
A teacher’s routine also varies, depending on who they teach. A first grade teacher is preparing differently, for instance, than a high school history teacher.
“In high school you’re still working on building a relationship. Elementary kids need to feel a part of a small group as far as the classroom,” Paine said. “In high school they are more mature and they are more focused on the curriculum because they are preparing for college and hitting then curriculum at a harder and faster pace.”
Teachers put more thought into the first day back than most people think because they know that a first impression is the most important for the students in a new environment, and writing the kids’ names on their desks and supplies isn’t just so the kids know where to sit.
“My team members and I take several days to put together activities so that when the kids come we do team building activities so they feel welcome and a part of a community,” Paine said. “Getting schedules ready and making sure their names are on things and check to make sure stuff is on the wall seems simple but it makes
them feel safe and welcome and they feel like they are a part of it when they see their name on things.”
In the end, this is just as exciting a “beginning” for the teachers as it is the students.
“Its exciting because were getting to meet new students,” Paine said. “It’s a fresh opportunity to teach them and have a successful year.”
–Story by Christine Baker of TownSquareBuzz.com. Christine, a senior at McKinney High, covers the teen beat and writes a weekly Teen Talk column, published Fridays on TSB.