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Chapter 7 William Allan Kritsonis, PhD

Prepare for the Opening and Closing of School

As surely as night follows day, the opening of a school year will be followed by its closing. Because the opening and closing affect parents and children directly, they must be planned carefully. It is the teachers responsibility to be well prepared for any unexpected situation that might present itself. The beginning of a school year is the perfect time to check that teaching certificates are properly registered with the school system and state department of education and that health records are still valid from the previous school year. Become familiar with insurance policy and health requirements and update medical data at this time. First year teachers, remember that it is good to have health exams submitted to district offices before or during the first week of school. During each school year, teachers face unexpected illnesses that necessitate their being absent. Know the proper procedures for reporting such absences so the school system can provide a substitute. Prepare detailed lesson plans for the substitute. Personal leave should also be addressed at the beginning of the school year. Be familiar with the proper steps for requesting personal leave in the event it is required. Spend a few minutes at the beginning of the school year to mark calendars for holidays, report card days, conferences, paycheck issuance, and other special events scheduled during the year. Find out how often fire drills are to occur and know exactly where children are to be directed. Opening day will usher in a host of energetic children eagerly anticipating new experiences. Getting there early will allow time to get settled in and prepared for the activities that are about to take place. Having the school plant free of potential hazard is absolutely imperative. The playground areas and all playground equipment must be thoroughly inspected and be safe for children. The classroom also must be readied for the first day of school to ensure productivity. Classrooms must be attractive for young children. The inventory list of instructional materials must be checked. Are books and other reading material in the 19

classroom? Are supplies of crayons, pencils, scissors, paper, and other items ample for the size of the class? Are computers, tape recorders, and screens for showing films and other equipment in proper working order? The environment must be warm and accepting. Posting the names of children assigned to a particular classroom on the door reduces opening-day confusion. Prepare the class roll and accumulative student records and have them on hand. Overcrowding in the classroom must be dealt with immediately. Inform the principal so necessary administrative steps can be taken to alleviate the problem. At the end of the first day, give the secretary or principal the exact enrollment count so they ensure that all children are with their assigned teacher. Exceptionally well-organized teachers send greeting cards home to parents with short, handwritten message stating what a pleasure it is to have their child as a student. After school has begun, an announcement can be sent home informing parents of school times, lunch prices, and information such as office hours in the event they would like to schedule a conference. Giving office hours promotes positive public relations between parents and teachers while preserving professional organization at school. Elementary teachers must be thoroughly familiar with special activities in the school. Know the scheduled times for library and educational specialist visits, physical education, and instrumental music lessons. Assembly programs, club meetings, and other special classes such as art, speech, computer lab, and creative dramatics are all an important part of the functioning elementary school. Being on good terms with the school custodian helps the classroom operate smoothly. Teachers can make the custodians job easier by having the class straighten their desks, put up their chairs, remove trash from the floor, and empty trash cans during the latter part of the school day. Taking time to interact with the custodian each day by inquiring about the activities he enjoys or asking about his family will strengthen the relationship between the teacher and custodian. As the school year draws to a close, evaluate the years total educational program. If changes in scheduling and curriculum must be made, discuss them with the principal. Explain any immediate concerns for the following year, remembering to keep 20

the main focus on the needs, interest, abilities, and desires of the children and how these changes affect their lives. On the last day of school, adhere to scheduled activities. Have the children work on worthwhile learning adventures. Allow for flexibility, but function in an orderly fashion. If not properly organized, the day could get out of hand. Read all closing school bulletins completely and thoroughly. Be certain that all student accumulative records, attendance records, promotion and retention lists, and financial lists are completed and submit them to the school office before leaving for the summer. If at all possible, secure the names of next years students, as well as the addresses of the current students. This makes it easy to contact new students and to remain in touch with former students during the summer vacation. Sometimes, sending a card or letter to new students will reduce first- day- of- school jitters. Also, some teachers occasionally send review work to former students to refresh their memories during the summer vacation. Parents appreciate this gesture. As the school year closes, strip the classroom of all items and leave it neat and orderly. Prepare for the principal a list of needed repairs on visual aid equipment such as computers, copying machines, or overhead projectors. Remember that certain items must be checked into the office before signing out for the summer. This list includes the following: 1. Teacher manuals, handbooks, and policies, 2. A list of those children retained for the next year, 3. A list of those children promoted to the next grade, 4. Keys and Locks. (Remember to label properly.), 5. Room inventory data, 6. Class roll books, receipt books, and teacher planning books, 7. List of the various repairs in the classroom and elsewhere that must be attended to before next school year begins, 8. Accumulative records, 9. Any other special reports, and 21

10. Your summer address. Contribute towards expenses for gifts that are bought for teachers who are leaving the school system or retiring. If the opportunity presents itself during the final meeting, express thanks and give recognition to staff members for their cooperation during the school year. Be honest, sincere, and polite in closing remarks wish them all a pleasant summer vacation. Now is also a good time to express honest and sincere appreciation to the principal for his/her leadership as an administrator. Spend these final minutes in a friendly conversation and end by saying thank you to the principal for a job well done. This chapter has concerned itself with the opening and closing days of the school year. Though these suggestions are aimed primarily at the inexperienced teacher, all can profit from having reviewed them. Speaking straight to the point, a thorough job of closing school will make for a smooth opening in the fall. Perhaps someday a computer will be tasked with the chore of opening and closing school and the teacher will simply walk to the classroom and begin teaching. Until such a time, however, practicing these suggestions will make for an easier transition. A Thought in Words Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave. Lord Brougham