MiddleWeb’s Latest Back to School Posts


Updated August 2021

At MiddleWeb Central in the mountains of North Carolina, start of school brings plenty of fresh teaching and learning ideas from our bloggers and guest writers. As Fall 2021 approaches, several educators have shared strategies for teaching in schools not yet beyond Covid challenges.

Carrying Forward Our Lessons About Teaching – Teacher educator Curtis Chandler relates five questions teachers have asked themselves during the Covid crisis, writing “If we begin the new school year with solid answers, we’ll be rewarded.” In Part 2 Curtis looks at lessons about using digital resources learned by teachers during the pandemic.

How We Redefined What School Means  – Last year most students at Laurie Lichtenstein’s middle school were F2F, but masked and isolated in small classroom pods as teachers moved about. It was hard, but as time passed teachers found ways to reduce isolation, build community, and let kids have lots of time to play. Fall 2021 may offer similar opportunities to reach students in parts of the United States.

What School Leaders Can Do to Prepare for 2021-2022  – As school leaders complete plans for Fall, they will need to include recovery strategies that identify effects of the pandemic and address emerging issues. Ron Williamson and Barbara Blackburn share key areas of focus to help teachers and students thrive in the new normal.

Looking back to pre-Covid times,  the insights in these 2018 and 2019 posts can help you push off into fall and a successful year:

♦ Start the Year Sharing Two Apps with Students by Megan Kelly
♦ Creating an Inviting Classroom Environment by Barbara Blackburn
♦ Two Goals for This Year: Parents and Positives by Michelle Russell
♦ Becoming Our School’s New Principal by Rita Platt
Beginning the School Year with English Learners in Mind by Valentina Gonzalez
25 Ways to Be Proactive When Times Are Tough by Julia Thompson
♦ How to Make or Find Good STEM Lessons by Anne Jolly
How Can We Liven Up the First Days of School? by Curtis Chandler
♦ In the New School Year: Simplify, Unify, Multiply by Dr. Frank Buck

Looking back, summer break 2017 also overflowed with teacher wisdom, and we thought we’d share both years’ harvest in one, easy-to-access summary post. We’ll add more articles here as they arrive so be sure to check back!

The students who are filling our classes

Future of History blogger Sarah Cooper considers the need to plan for quiet spaces where less talkative students can find respite from the energetic sharing of many classrooms in Quiet, Please! Rethinking Our Learning Spaces.

TweenTeacher Heather Wolpert-Gawron suggests teachers Bring Your Personality and Humor on Day One to help create a warm community of learning.

Cheryl Mizerny, who writes our blog It’s Not Easy Being Tween, resolves to spend this school year cultivating a culture of kindness among her middle level students as she joins with them to create The Kind Classroom.

ESL educator Walton Burns emphasizes communicating clearly when you Use Community Builders to Help Set Expectations.

STEM by Design blogger Anne Jolly offers STEM (and STEAM) teachers a guide to launching student teams, an essential to starting the year off right.

MiddleWeb blogger Lauren S. Brown shares her exploration of ways to get middle schoolers talking effectively in class about what they know, including ideas for pop-up mini-debates in Helping Students Speak More Effectively in Class.

Content area resources are multiplying as school doors open

Meaningful Math blogger Michelle Russell shares resources for tackling learning challenges that pop up each year in First Days of Math Class: Fractions and Equations. She follows up with her first week back in math class as she launched her classroom communities, thanks to teachers whose activities and ideas she scouted out online.

Math coach and author Tracy Zager looks at How We Become Skillful Math Teachers with ways to speed up effectiveness in the classroom.

ELA gets the attention of literacy coach Shawna Coppola in Rethink First-Day Writing to Better Engage Kids as she pushes teachers to think beyond the what-I-did-last-summer narratives.

Kids on the Cusp blogger Mary Tarashuk adds three science units to her fourth grade classroom this year. In Using Fiction to Launch Our 4th Grade Science she shares how she plans to use the 2017 Global Read Aloud selection (The Wild Robot) in her Literacy Workshop to help ready students for her new science unit on animal and plant adaptation.

Digital tools can help teachers create strong classroom communities

Class Apps blogger Curtis Chandler suggests Tech Tools (to) Help You Hit the Ground Running and streamline lesson planning, create secure class websites, connect with families, and gather information on how your new students like to learn.

Centering yourself for the exciting year to come

Amid the enthusiasm and anticipation that typically infuse the start of school, author Debbie Silver shares advice to help teachers plan a successful year in Teachers: Plan to Care for Yourself This Year.

More places to find back-to-school resources!

For a treasure trove of teacher wisdom we’ve collected over past years, visit MiddleWeb’s Back to School Resources post. The freshly updated content offers ideas for dealing with first week crises, understanding middle graders, getting students focused and schools operational, bringing parents into the learning community, and more.

We’re admirers of Jennifer Gonzalez and her Cult of Pedagogy site. Plenty of good back to school and new teacher advice and you can follow her @cultofpedagogy on Twitter, too. One of our most popular posts here at MiddleWeb was written by Jen: 10 Ways to Sabotage your Classroom Management.

If you’d like to hear even more from colleagues, teacher and EdWeek blogger Larry Ferlazzo has assembled a list of his Classroom Q&A back-to-school conversations with accomplished educators. Throughout the year, be sure to watch for his latest posts here. Or just follow him on Twitter @larryferlazzo.

Already ready for comic relief?

Earlier this year Roxanna Elden shared a chapter of her very funny novel Adequate Yearly Progress with us. It seems particularly apt for this moment: The Back to School Faculty Meeting.

Susan Curtis

Susan Curtis is co-editor of MiddleWeb.com. In a long career, she has taught middle grades students, worked in human services, edited a variety of publications and wrangled the reference desk in libraries.

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