Advice for the New School Year


I have asked some of my favorite connected educators to share their advice for the new school year. Below are their responses:


“Take time to think about your purpose in each lesson you teach, each word that you say, and each thought that you share.  What we do is too important to have a bad day, or take the morning off.  Let your passions drive you and allow your student’s passions to lead them to further learning.” – Jay Billy @JayBilly2


“As the new year quickly approaches it is easy to get caught up in classroom design, curriculum and classroom management routines. And that is fine. But I believe that the most important thing you can do is to take care of you. Read that book you have been wanting to read. Go the gym or go for a leisurely walk with a friend. Check out that movie that just came out. Better yet, find a friend and see two movies in a row! You see, too often we get bogged down in what we ‘must’ do to prepare for school and we neglect to prepare ‘ourselves.’ So take care of you. Have fun. Stay up late. Eat a whole tub of ice cream. Go shopping. Go to the beach. Do whatever you want. Treat yourself. Because before you know it, you will turn back into that selfless individual that does whatever it takes to see that your staff and your students are happy.”

– Jon Harper @Jonharper70bd



“My best advice for the new school year is to make a commitment to make your tomorrow better than your yesterday. Every year is a professional growth opportunity as we can ponder how to elevate and enrich our instructional potential. You have been given a gift in that each year brings you children you have never had before, affording you an opportunity to bring the best YOU to the learning table for THOSE students. Enroll in the university of children this year so they can be your teachers as you learn with, through, and beside them. Excellent teachers know that they are NEVER ‘there.’ We must always reach for a better version of the teacher we are now. Celebrate the potential of the new YOU waiting in the distance!” – Dr. Mary Howard @DrMaryHoward


“Be a connected educator. It is important to “put yourself out there” on Twitter. Twitter has become the voice of connected educators. One can build a solid Professional Learning Network by reaching out, sharing, learning, experimenting and observing. In my “Social Media in Education” class I require my students to follow key professionals in the field who are, thankfully, members of my Professional Learning Network (PLN). They include former students like Brad Currie @bradmcurrie and Glenn Robbins @Glennr1809 who have become leading digital administrators;  outstanding administrators like Scott Rocco @ScottRRocco, Winston Sakurai  @winstonsakurai, Bobby Dodd @Bobby Dodd,  Jay Billy @JayBilly2, and Jay Eitner @iSuperEit. My favorite Google trainer, Rich Kiker  @rkiker, My favorite blogger and path blazer, Starr Sackstein @mssackstein Classroom teachers and librarians, Bonnie Curran @rocket_116  and Michael Curran @mcurran, my daughter and son. Teachers Sylwia Denko @MissDenko, Patrick Callahan @CallahansClass and Billy Krakower @wkrakower. Brad Currie, Scott Rocco, Billy Krakower have formed @EvolvingEd, a partnership designed help educators evolve into connected professionals. The connectedness of Twitter has enabled educators to “cross-train” across disciplines expanding their knowledge and interest bases. And of course #4OCF — Rich Czyz @RACzyz and Trevor Bryan @trevorabryan. I encourage my students to become involved immediately, if only to lurk, then respond, then offer, then blog, continuing to build their PLNs.  Following these professionals will provide great opportunities for learning and sharing.” – Michael Curran @mgcjusa



“First impressions are the most important, so I’ve been constantly thinking and brainstorming about how to start the year for students AND staff with a bang. My personal mission is to collaboratively create a school that our students, staff and parents are running to get IN rather than out. I knew the traditional first day of rules and rules and more rules would not work. Create culture FIRST! When the right culture is cultivated, it’s amazing how the need for specific rules diminishes.” – Beth Houf @BethHouf

Check out Beth’s Back to School Like A Pirate Post here.


“Reflect deeply on the reasons you chose education as your profession and reconnect with them. It is imperative for us to remember “why” we chose this field. When we recapture that altruistic spirit, we are capable of anything!

Take the time to develop relationships with your students, parents, and new colleagues. Spend the time with your returning colleagues to fortify your connections with them. Do not take relationships for granted – it can take years to build them and only seconds to lose them.

Be well prepared. While you may have taught the content before, you have not taught it to this year’s students before. They deserve the same excellent preparation your previous students enjoyed!

Seize the energy present at the beginning of the school year. Kids are intuitive and our energy is contagious. An enthusiastic start to the school year builds a springboard for the rest of it.” – Matt Hillman @mahillmann



Check out Andrew’s Unlocking Potential post here.


“As we embark on a new school year we will get countless reminders of the curriculum, common assessments, standardized assessments, and mandated training. We remember; without fail, to provide these reminders most of which are derived from the Common Core. However, we get very few reminders that as educators, we are merchants of hope who have the ability to change and even save lives. We get so immersed with the Common Core that we forget about the Human Core. Educators (regardless of title) who focus on the Human Core tend to:

  • make kids feels special that have never felt special
  • make kids feel worthy when they themselves and others make them feel worthless
  • make kids work hard and not even know it
  • make kids laugh at the time they need it the most
  • make kids smile on their worst day
  • love their students unconditionally

At times, we (including me) can get very myopic as we seek to invest our time in the Common Core. If as educators, we invested in the human core the way we do everything else, imagine what the possibilities could be for our students. So, regardless of your role, as you get ready for a new year: How will you invest in the Human Core?” – Cory Radisch @MRHS_Principal

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“Make a daily effort to be a “GUIDE ON THE SIDE” rather than a “Sage on the Stage.” Spotify your classroom! The more control students have over what is played, the greater the probability is that they will stay tuned in. Do this by incorporating student CHOICE into as many learning tasks as you can. Offer students DIFFERENT options to demonstrate evidence of learning. Use this Show What You Know Bingo HyperDoc to get started:

Establish a strong PERSONAL CONNECTION with your students: Share family stories with students. Include your spouse, your children, and your pets. Describe how things were in school when you were a kid. Share your writing with students. Read them stories you wrote when you were their age. Show them your horrible handwriting. Model and demonstrate how you write, edit and revise your blog posts. Be transparent and let students see your successes AND your failures! Getting to know your students is just as important as them getting to know you. Provide ample opportunities for them to share verbally and in writing. Start a class blog with this goal in mind. Go to your students’ sporting events, dance recitals and drama shows. They will never forget this!” – @LeeAraoz


Have any other advice that will be helpful for the new school year? Share in the comments section below.

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