Getting Ready for the New School Year with Stanislava Stefanova

Станислава Стефанова
Stanislava Stefanova

The first day of school is almost here, but teachers have started to prepare for it weeks ago. Stanislava Stefanova is here to tell us more about the way she gets ready to meet her students, her excitement, planning, and hybrid teaching techniques.

Stanislava has participated in Teach For Bulgaria’s program “A New Way to Teaching”. She is a science teacher and a class teacher to a group of 6th-grade students. 

“This was the first summer since I started teaching that I took some time to relax, visit some of my favorite places, spend quality time with friends and family, go hiking, and recharge. I think it’s important for teachers to find time to rest and recuperate because this will help us to be more productive during the school year,” shares Stanislava.

The school year starts on September 1 at Stanislava’s school and teachers usually prepare their classrooms at the end of August. Stanislava is very excited and says that September is her favorite month mostly because she is always looking forward to meeting her students, just like many other teachers.

“The truth is that I could hardly wait to start the school year, meet my students and see how much they’ve grown over the summer. Most people don’t like September because they associate it with the end of summer, but I think it’s the best month. September is excitement, a new beginning, euphoria, adrenaline, and a long-awaited reunion with my students and colleagues. September is also flowers for the teachers on the first day of school. This is why I couldn’t wait to start the school year.”

How to prepare for the new school year

Stanislava started teaching at her current school the previous school year. She knows some of her students, but there are also children she has not met yet. 

“It is important to me to build a relationship of trust with my students, so I take the time to get to know them at the beginning of the school year. This is crucial for my job – getting to know the students, sharing my expectations with them, hearing about their fears or insecurities, setting goals for the school year. It is also important for the students to feel comfortable in class, not to be afraid to make mistakes and realize that mistakes help us learn,” says Stanislava.

Станислава в очакване на учениците
Stanislava is looking forward to meeting her students

Stanislava’s classroom reflects these values. She uses various posters and boards which display her expectations, classroom rules, goals, progress, etc.

“I believe it’s important to build a specific classroom culture, so that classes can go according to plan. That’s why I always make sure to spend some time talking about classroom rules, expectations, and worries. Another priority is to make sure that my students believe they are capable of learning science. I want them to believe in their potential and not to quit when things seem difficult for them.”

In order to track their progress Stanislava uses online trackers. She enters her students’ results from the initial diagnostic assessment and every subsequent mini test at the end of each class. This allows her students to track their progress and set ambitious goals for themselves.

Pro tip: Use Canva.com to create visualizations, posters and boards for your classroom for free. There are also plenty of templates you can adapt for your work.

Take a closer look at Stanislava’s classroom:

How to prepare for online and hybrid teaching

We all hope that students and teachers will get to spend more time in the classroom this year, but this probably won’t happen. There is also no room for debate when school is just about to start. Stanislava expects that she’ll have to do hybrid teaching this year as well, so she has decided to start preparing for it. 

“There are many hurdles when it comes to online learning, but I do think it’s important for us to try to focus on its advantages. I learned many things over the past two years – best practices and new ideas about student engagement during online teaching, so I am not worried about having to work from home again,” says Stanislava.

She has already applied some of these best practices in person, so she feels like she is ready for the new school year “regardless whether my classroom will be my desk at home or the science center at school”.

Here are some of the tools Stanislava uses in her virtual classroom to engage all of her students:

  • ClassDojo – classroom culture tracker;
  • menti.com – a tool for surveys, useful to collect feedback quickly and efficiently; 
  • padlet, mural – platforms which facilitate collaboration;
  • Stanislava uses Google Classroom for homework assignments even during in-person teaching;
  • She has online progress trackers which boost student engagement;
  • She also uses platforms, apps, and tools such as kahoot.it, phet, learning.apps, wordwall.

How do you prepare for the new school year? Tell us more at newsletter@zaednovchas.bg

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