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I’ve been teaching for nearly a decade, and there are two school events that are my favorite: first day of school and our graduation/prom combo. Why? New beginnings. The first day of school is a chance for everyone to reinvent themselves to be a better version. This is especially exciting for students starting at a new school. No one knows you! The possibilities are endless. You might meet your new favorite teacher or build a friendship that will last a lifetime.

Here are five tips to make it your best year:

1. Be Prepared! You are about to start your first day at a virtual school, so your school supply list looks a bit different than it did in previous years. However, you will still want to get a notebook for each of your classes. Even though you can write notes in a Word document, studies show that people who take notes by hand remember more and have a deeper understanding of the material. So, make sure to buy some extras of your favorite writing tool. If you like taking notes but you also like to doodle to process information, try Bullet Journal. It is a personal goal this school year as a teacher is to use bullet journaling to keep track and monitor daily/monthly tasks and explore new ideas creatively—that is, by drawing them out.

2. Embrace Growth Mindset. At Insight School of Washington, we incorporate the growth mindset idea into our advisory classes. The idea behind growth mindset is that the way we talk to ourselves has power. Someone with a growth mindset believes skills and intelligence are not set in stone, and by believing they can learn, they end up learning. Have you ever told yourself you aren’t good at something? Maybe you’ve said, “I can’t draw.” That’s fixed mindset speaking! Instead, implement growth mindset and say, “I’m going to take classes and practice art every day.” And then do it. Change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process.

3. Allow for Mistakes and Ask for Help. This connects back to the growth mindset idea. No one is perfect! Don’t be too hard on yourself. You are starting a new school, and you are learning new procedures for doing things. The teachers are here to help you navigate the school and the course. You’ll find your peers, too, are extremely supportive in the virtual classroom (ClassConnect).

4. Time Management. At your virtual school, you’ll have live lessons to attend, lessons to read, and assignments to complete. It is important to find a system to stay organized that works for you AND to stick with it. Hold yourself accountable and don’t procrastinate.

5. Connections. You will be amazed by all the new friends you make here. Join one of the many virtual clubs our school offers. Attend the in-person events your school holds. Part of embracing change is trying something new.

Hopefully some of these suggestions resonate with you as you get ready to start the school year. It is ok to be nervous, but don’t let that hold you back from making this your best year. Take advantage of the new beginnings.

About The Author

Andrea Teske

Andrea Teske is an English teacher at Insight School of Washington (ISWA). Andrea earned her bachelor’s degree in English with a certificate in secondary education from College of Saint Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota, in 2007. She joined the Insight family in 2008, starting out with Insight School of Minnesota before switching to Washington in 2011. In 2015, she was selected Teacher of the Year by the administration, staff, and students. Andrea has experience teaching every English course; however, she is immensely content teaching creative writing to 9-12 grade students. After all, now she gets to read amazing student-composed stories every day! Andrea lives in Seattle, Washington, with her 11-year-old son Alister.

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