Although end of year looms, there’s still plenty to do

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Rachel Nobel 1155

It may seem hard to believe, but the summer will be here before you know it. Between report cards, summer projects and cumulative records, there’s a lot to keep in mind before the school year is over.

In the spring, teachers are given a program preference sheet for the 2015–16 school year. You should indicate the subject and grade areas you wish to teach in order of priority.

You should receive your assignment for the fall term by mid-June. Remember that you are entitled to one preparation period (or “prep”) and a duty-free lunch period. If you teach middle or high school, you should be scheduled for no more than four consecutive working assignments in a day. If you are an elementary school teacher and you are not assigned to any of your grade choices, or if you fail to receive your first choice for the second year in a row, you are entitled to file a grievance.

The last few months of the school year may provide opportunities to introduce new and innovative ideas into your curriculum.

“Devise projects they can really dig their wonderful creative, thinking selves into,” says Brenda Shufelt, a librarian at PS 30 in Harlem. Graeme Sibirsky, a teacher at the Urban Assembly Academy of Arts and Letters in Fort Greene, also recommends taking field trips with your class in the waning days of school. “Leave them with a memory of something fun that enriched their lives before they go home for the summer,” he says.

This can also be a good time to regroup and examine your curriculum and your teaching style.

“May and June are the best months to experiment,” says Linda Fisher, a social studies teacher at Isaac Newton MS for Math and Science in East Harlem. “At this point in the school year, you know your students well enough to take risks you most likely weren’t willing to take in September.”

As you reflect, ask your students to do so as well. Consider asking your students what they found engaging or challenging about being in your class, and use the information to help you shape your plans for next year.

In early June, you’ll have two clerical half days that you can use to prepare your students’ records. “After Memorial Day weekend, you can start your cumulative records,” advises Alan Wallman, a teacher at PS 46 in Harlem. “Check through each folder to make sure it’s complete. Update addresses and the health card, and you can begin to fill out the behavior portion and the parent-teacher conference portion.”

You’ll also want to spend some time organizing your classroom before you close it up for the summer. Remember that your room may be used for summer school, so invest in locks for your closets for anything you want to keep secure.

“Put everything away in your closets in bins with lids and label the bins with all of the contents inside,” recommends Carrie Campis-Dugan, a teacher at PS 180 in Harlem. “It makes setting back up in September a lot easier!”

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