WILMINGTON – While parents are getting kids ready for the new school year by buying new clothes and school supplies, teachers are getting ready by setting up their classrooms and attending professional developmental sessions.
Some people may think teachers go into their classroom a couple of days before school starts and are ready to go, but the truth is, teachers spend up to a month preparing for the new school year.
For teachers, Roy E. Holmes Elementary School opened Aug. 1 — a Saturday — so they could get ready for the new year, said Principal Carrie Ziegler.
“We did have a load of teachers come in on that Saturday because they were very anxious to get started and set up their new rooms for the school year,” she said.
The first contractual day of the year, Ziegler said, was Monday, but teachers didn’t have time to set up their classrooms that day.
“We have staff development day (Monday), which is a professional developmental day,” Ziegler said. “This is the time when we’re discussing our district-wide goals, providing professional, developmental and instructional strategies.”
Open house for parents and students was Monday 5-7 p.m. so a lot of the teachers came in the week before school to set up the classroom so it’s ready for the open house, she said.
There is a lot to do to prepare for the open house and the beginning of the year, Ziegler said.
“Really, as a Holmes teacher, I want my room to be ready for open house even though they have that whole next day (Tuesday) to work,” she said.
Everything in the classrooms was taken down at the end of last school year so maintenance could clean the classrooms from top to bottom. Since the classrooms are bare come August when the building opens, all teachers have to redecorate their classrooms from scratch, Ziegler said.
“You have to set up your classroom because nothing is set up,” said Tanya Campbell, a third-grade science, math and social studies teacher at Holmes Elementary.
In addition to setting up the classrooms, teachers have to prepare lesson plans for the first full week of school and the following weeks — a lot of which is done at home.
“My kids go to bed and at 9 p.m. until probably midnight I’m doing lesson plans and grading papers,” Campbell said.
Doing lesson plans also takes a lot of time because the teachers have to send copy requests to the copy center and wait for the pages to be copied, a process that takes two days.
“You have to plan ahead,” she said.
While teachers are given funds set aside by the principal for items such as folders, markers, crayons, pencils and other necessary items, a lot of teachers spend their own money on decorations for the classroom along with candy and goodies they may give the students for a job well done on homework or tests, Campbell said.
In addition to buying decorations, setting up classrooms and doing lesson plans at home, teachers often attend conferences outside of school.
Some teachers attended professional development and math professional development conferences in Columbus before the school year even starts, Ziegler said.
“Just because we’re not in school doesn’t mean our teachers aren’t out trying to be better professionals,” she said.
All students in the Wilmington district start school Wednesday, but since it’s a short week, Ziegler said the first three days of school are used to teach students building expectations and distributing textbooks and workbooks.
Students will also take part in a program called Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, which will help teach them the correct behaviors to use during school.
“We want all of our kids to be successful this school year,” Ziegler said.