Sage Advice for a Successful School Year

Aug 06, 2021 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team

If you have recently strolled into your local big box store, you likely have seen shelves upon shelves of back to school supplies. The waxy scent of crayons, the colorful array of notebooks and folders, and the deeply discounted price of school glue bottles often gets even the most reluctant learner and teacher excited for fall. Backpacks, lunchboxes, and pencil cases seem to announce, “It’s back to school time!” School is indeed just around the corner.

Are you ready? Ready or not, the 2021–2022 school year is nearly here!

Recently we reached out to our accredited instructors to seek their words of wisdom for starting the school year off right. IEW’s accredited instructors have experience with the Structure and Style methodology and are available to provide instruction and paper editing, among other things. They also have a broad range of teaching experience, from being full-time classroom teachers, to working with students with special needs in a tutor relationship, to being co-op and hybrid school instructors. Having several ideas to help your school year start on the right foot, they have offered some suggestions to smooth your way. Continue reading to glean useful ideas for yourself and your students.

What steps can I take this summer to feel prepared for the start of the fall semester?

Plan, plan, plan. Having a plan going into the year can bring some confidence to your teaching. Once in the midst of the school year, be flexible. A plan is a very helpful thing as long as the plan stays in its place as a tool rather than a dictator. – Marci H.

Spend time preparing lessons now so you can focus on teaching and building relationships with your students and parents during the school year. – Sydney H.

Lay out an organized syllabus so parents and students can follow what is going on, but be willing to change it as needed. – Rebecca S.

Educate yourself first. Become so full you overflow your knowledge to your students. – Jeremy K.

With regard to teaching writing specifically, what steps can I take to best teach my students?

Every child is different. Find a goal for each child individually, and work to that goal. It might be to include all the dress-ups in every paragraph. It might be not to use the same five -ly adverbs in every paper. It might be to turn in assignments on time. But find one thing that each student can achieve so that he can have “good job” on his composition. – Jennifer L.

Reread “4 Deadly Errors of Teaching Writing” and “Editing with a Smile” every year. – Marci H.

If it is an important concept or technique, model it and practice it with your students. Anything that you want them to do well, plan on doing it often with them. Once they are outside of your class, you have little knowledge of how they use that technique. However, when they are with you in class, you can see that they are practicing it and can check for accuracy and fluency. Schedule class time to practice the important things. – Gwendolyn A.

Stick to marking using the checklist. Use the Checklist Generator™ so that you are not going too fast with adding items to the checklist. – Marie G.

Make it relevant and make it FUN! Use all those fun game suggestions. Trust the curriculum and the process. – Marianne R.

The most important tip is the one promoted by Mr. Pudewa: Model, model, model. When teaching a new dress-up, model how to incorporate it into a sentence. When teaching a new structure (such as how to write an introduction), model it as well. – Barbara

You can never help your students too much. Help them with their writing assignments. They will eventually take flight! – Angela F.

For your students to experience the concept before writing, take time to bring in props and hands-on activities that relate to the topic. It builds background knowledge that they can use. – Shelley P.

Large writing assignments can be daunting to students, especially for students who are prone to procrastination. Consider assigning different official due dates for each paragraph. – Yvette A.

Plan out your year and divide by the structural units you want to complete. Keep on schedule even if you don’t get all of the assignments done. – Marie G.

What are some of the intangibles I should keep in mind as I work with my students?

Have fun, and get outside every day! – Rebecca S.

Make sure that what you believe about education and what you do are in alignment. – Rebecca O.

Set expectations with your students. Establish clear communication with the students and others involved in their education. – Name not provided

Make good plans, but be willing to change them if needed. – Mary O.

We hope you were able to find a nugget or two of inspiration as you read over this post. It is an honor to partner with you in helping your students become competent and confident communicators. As your school year commences, we have many supports in place to help you as you teach your students. Check out our blog post “A New Box of Crayons” for more details.

This upcoming year we have several exciting ways that you can find support and connection. If you will be using Ancient History-Based Writing Lessons, join us for the monthly webinar, where Andrew Pudewa will introduce the first lesson from each unit contained in the book. It’s a perfect way for you to prepare for your teaching. And if you miss a live webinar, no worries. You can find the recordings in our webinar archive. Incidentally, if you are using U.S. History-Based Writing Lessons, the recordings introducing each new unit are available in the archive as well.

Throughout the year we will be periodically offering special online events, such as conferences, webinars, and a family fun night. Whether you are a homeschooling parent, classroom teacher, tutor, or a teacher in another setting, we look forward to connecting with you and assisting in any way we can.

Let the school year commence!

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