5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before This School Year Starts

In the minds of teachers, August can only mean one thing… another school year is starting. If you are like me, that means your mind is running 100 miles per hour trying to figure out how you will finish up all your summer projects and get all of your school stuff ready. The start of the year can be daunting, so here are some questions to ask yourself to guide your planning. As for the summer projects – good luck.

5 Questions

1. What did I love about last year?


Take a little bit of time to reflect on what you enjoyed about teaching last year. Thinking about the successes of last year helps you get into a positive mindset for all of the challenges that come from starting up the school year. It also gives you a great place to start planning from for the upcoming year. Last year, I learned so much from my students’ end of the year reflections that I am looking forward to doing them quarterly this year.

2. How was my behavior plan?

While you’re in a reflective mood, consider how your behavior plan worked for you last year. Was it awesome? Does it need a few tweaks? Does it need to be totally rethought? Having a quality behavior plan in place makes your school year so much more enjoyable. Best Behavior Bingo is one fun twist you might consider.

3. What are the big curriculum changes?

I send an email to Math, Science, English and Social Studies teachers each summer asking them what the big concepts are for the coming year and when they will be teaching them. It helps me tie my curriculum into the school curriculum.

This is also a great time to review your school’s curriculum and the state/national standards. I have yet to start the year with every lesson plan ready to go, but having an overview of the year is a must!

4. What new, exciting thing am I dying to add to my classroom?

green screen

The summer always seems to be full of great ideas that I just can’t wait to do in my classroom. However, when the school year starts up, it is easy to get overwhelmed and forget some of them. Make a plan to make sure those awesome new ideas don’t get forgotten. My new thing for the upcoming school year is starting to flip my classroom. It is taking a lot of planning and I am nervous, but it is so very exciting.

5. How will I make time for me?

Me time

This one can be overlooked, but one thing the summer always reminds me of is how much better I am when I have a little “me time.” It can be a few minutes scheduled into your lunch time to go for a walk. It could be getting up a few minutes earlier for some personal time. It could be starting (and sticking to) an exercise routine. Check out this infographic from to see the benefits of a little me time. No matter what you do, make a plan and stick to it.

It is crazy how even 15 years into teaching I still get all giddy and nervous about the start of a new school year. The butterflies in my tummy tell me that I am still in the right profession, but the mom of 3, art teacher of 600 realist knows that a little planning makes the whole year go so much better.

What do you do to get ready for the upcoming year?

What new thing are you doing this upcoming school year?


Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Jennifer Carlisle

Jennifer Carlisle, a middle school art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She loves exploring and teaching art through both traditional and digital art mediums.

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