Teacher Talk Recap: How to Prepare for a School Year Unlike Any Other

Abeka Teacher Talk

We’ve recently launched a brand-new way to connect and learn as teachers called, Teacher Talk Live. It’s a live webinar event hosted by Abeka experts where our mission is to bring teachers together to discuss relevant and significant topics for teachers right now.

Barbie Tupua graciously joined us for our first Teacher Talk Live. She’s a mom of five with 16 years of upper elementary teaching experience, and she’s currently working in the publishing department at Abeka.

Cindy Quinlan also joined us. She’s an educational consultant with Abeka who taught grades 7-12 at a Christian school in Virginia for several years and is currently teaching high school classes at Pensacola Christian Academy.

Barbie and Cindy spoke to us about the most relevant topics teachers are dealing with this year, including remediation, how to handle reviews efficiently and effectively, best practices for distance learning, and more. Keep reading to get all of the details.

Don’t let anxiety dictate the year

With all the conversations that have been happening over the summer about the challenging school year to come, you may find yourself feeling anxious. However, your anxiety could actually be rooted in what other people are saying rather than the reality of your school’s situation.

Remediation may not be as necessary as you think. Consider how your school ended the previous school year – if your students were able to get through their lessons for the year, they may be more prepared for this year than you think. Many schools we’ve spoken to have been able to fluidly start school back without too much to catch up on. Don’t let anxiety corner you into a state of fear, and take some time to assess how up to speed your students really are.

Rely on spiral review

If the need for remediation in your class is low, Abeka’s spiral approach may be all you need to handle extra review. The Abeka curriculum weaves in the important pieces of each grade’s lessons throughout the concepts presented in a given year’s lesson plans. We refer to that as our “spiral review.” This year more than any other, that will be a big help for students who may have been struggling at the end of a tumultuous previous school year. 

Set expectations early

Your students have been out of their routine for longer than just a typical summer. Getting them back into a routine will be the key to being able to have a strong start to the year. Set yourself up for success by establishing the expectation of attentiveness in your classroom early. In elementary school, test your kids and praise them when they meet those expectations.

Meet your students where they are

You can adjust your approach to assignments and the curriculum to match the level your students are still working on. In the Abeka curriculum, each subject and book is considered in the daily and weekly lesson plans, so if your students are struggling with a reading concept, check the correlating reading book’s lesson to see if there are any exercises that would provide an additional review on a concept. You’re likely to find more exercises and reviews.

Additionally, in some of our books, there are also supplementary review sections called “Take Five” where you can find more reviews of the important elements of the day’s lesson. 

Focus review time on the skill subjects

The skill subjects – math, reading, and phonics – will require more review than history or science in order to solidify the important concepts that continue to build upon each other. It will be important to prioritize these review sections without allowing them to take over class time. For instance, there may be 30 problems of review at the end of the lesson plans for math. Take a few minutes beforehand to select a mixture of the types of problems to represent the concepts from the day’s lesson in order to cover each adequately. In the process, you will cut down the time for review while still covering the most important parts of the lesson review. 

How to assist students who need extra help

1.  Utilize study hall periods as a time to work with individual students during those times or bring in an upperclassman who has the skills to tutor and help younger students with their work.

2.  Offer a help class before or after school hours. A 30-minute window two days a week can make a difference in each subject. Other teachers can also pitch in to help with different subjects, or, if you only have time for one subject offering per week, try that. 

How to prepare for help classes

Trust the curriculum. In arithmetic, take your daily curriculum, and utilize the oral (or other) review sections that are already outlined in the curriculum for that day to add another level of review for your struggling student. In this case, that might include flashcards and charts that you already have on hand for the day. Other areas of review you might consider are previous test problems they struggled with or even returning to review sections that have been skipped in class.

If your students need extra help with language, another teacher trick is to create a sentence bank by pulling out sentences from their third-grade curriculum that might not be as difficult or complex for struggling students.

How to find the weak areas in your new class

Once you’ve gotten further into the year, it will be easier to pinpoint the areas your students are struggling in. But at the beginning of a new school year, that can pose more of a challenge. Here are two ways to flush out the areas your new students needs help in, sooner:

1. Talk to the previous years’ teacher. They can help you learn about which concepts the students struggled with and which students will need more guidance.

2. Talk to your parents. Put a bug in their ear and explain that you are considering offering a help class and find out what areas they feel their children might need extra help in.

Best practices for distance learning 

1.  Be warm and cheerful toward your students on video calls. They’re missing out on the full classroom experience, so the more inviting you are, the better their response will be toward you.

2.  Be clear about what’s needed for each lesson. For example, a pencil, your book, and a piece of paper. Explain what’s needed up front.

3.  Set expectations. Here are a few expectation-setting example prompts:

– Ask students to type questions into the chat box or email them.

– When you ask a question, ask students to type in the answer but don’t hit send, then when you say “go,” they can hit send.

– Encourage students to respond with nonverbal cues like a thumbs up or a colored piece of paper to keep them engaged.

4.  Give students time to work independently while everyone is still on the call.

5.  Utilize Abeka’s ProTeach Video Lessons to lead the lessons and be there to help your students with review and follow-up afterward.

We hope these teacher tips have given you a few ideas and inspired you to have a great school year. You can expect a new Teacher Talk Live in 6 weeks. 

In the meantime, if you have a topic that you would like for our team to cover, as well as questions about this event, or what other teachers’ advice is on a particular topic, reach out to us by emailing: Schools@abeka.com

Comments for Teacher Talk Recap: How to Prepare for a School Year Unlike Any Other

January 28, 2022

Hi i just wanted to say the teachers here are the best

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