Topics: Science Back to School

Preparing for the Beginning of a New School Year

Sally Robichaux

by Sally Robichaux

September 5, 2023
Preparing for the Beginning of a New School Year

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Posted in: Aha! Blog > Great Minds Texas | Blog > Science Back to School > Preparing for the Beginning of a New School Year

It’s that time again—time to start planning for the beginning of the school year. We all know that the start of a new school year can bring frenzy, commotion, and even jitters. We’re here to take some of the stress out of planning and preparing, so you can focus on what’s important: getting to know your new students. This month, we’ll be reviewing a few things to keep in mind while setting a precedent for yourself and your students alike.

Create a classroom culture.

You might have heard it’s important to teach routines and procedures early in the school year. But the beginning of school is also the perfect time to establish a strong classroom culture. PhD Science® TEKS Edition is a student-driven curriculum that allows students the opportunity to explore and take risks. Therefore, it’s important to create a safe space for your students to speak freely, explore their ideas, and at times even struggle. Determine some ways to make your classroom a safe space for your students. This could mean creating class norms around discussion, collaboration, and argumentation. This could also mean modeling for your students a noncompetitive learning environment that honors perseverance, effort, and learning from mistakes. PhD Science TEKS Edition uses rigor to engage students, so consider creating a culture where productive struggle is encouraged and students see themselves as capable learners and fearless risk-takers.

Whatever you put in place, be conscious that you are designing and creating an authentic learning environment that encourages students to own their learning.

Embrace your implementation journey.

The beginning of the school year is also a good time to set goals for yourself. If you’re a first-year implementer, our advice is to focus on the basics. Take your time exploring and facilitating core components of the curriculum such as anchor visuals, instructional routines, and investigations. There’s no need to try and do everything all at once. Become familiar with the curriculum before layering on some of the more complex components.

For second-year implementers and beyond, use the start of the school year to reflect on what went well last year and what can be improved. Also, consider mastering a few new curriculum components. For example, if you’ve mastered those talk moves to promote student discourse, focus your attention on facilitating constructive Socratic Seminars at the end of each module. If you’ve become comfortable with the activities and investigations in each module, lean into the differentiation sidebar notes in your Teacher Edition.

If you’re an implementer around the four-year mark, you’re likely ready to really maximize instructional effectiveness, including by using information from PhD Science TEKS Edition assessments to tailor instruction for your students. Think of each year of implementation as bringing new opportunities for you and your students.

Find the resources that work for you.

We’re here to help every step of the way because supporting teachers means supporting students. Our Implementation Success team is busy at work creating a variety of new resources to help teachers navigate the curriculum. However, we know it can be overwhelming to sift through everything

we have to offer. Take some time to review all resources available, then revisit the ones that you feel are most useful. Finding the resources that work best for you will help you establish a routine when preparing to teach a module. Pro Tip: The Module Overview and the storyline in Appendix B are great places to start.

Set intentions for your classroom and for yourself.

A new school year doesn’t have to mean chaos. Each school year with PhD Science TEKS Edition is a new opportunity to advance your craft. Remember to set intentions for your classroom culture and foster that culture early on. And don’t forget to set intentions for yourself by selecting a few new curriculum components to master and a few go-to implementer resources that best serve you. Know that we are with you every step of the way and take advantage of the many ways to connect with us. We wish you luck this coming year and hope that the 2023–2024 school year is your best one yet.

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Topics: Science Back to School