Planning for Next School Year with the Unknown

Hey Teachers, thanks for coming over to the blog, I want to talk about something that people do not really want to talk about: next school year. There are SO many unknowns as to what it is going to look like and what our role as a teacher is going to be but I wanted to shed some of my insight on it and let you know that it will all be ok!

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Ending the school year in March was weird. We didn’t get to say good bye to our students, we had to collect everything as fast as we could and overall I would say it was a bad situation. It was not fun for anyone. Then we had very little time to get online and plan lessons. Now if you are an early elementary school teacher this was extra tough. Young students do not know how to navigate google, zoom and other platforms. So we were working with the parents, who were trying their best to make sure that their student was showing up for school. It was a mess! But in the end I have to say that I appreciated all the hard work that my parents out into the classroom. We all came together and made the best out of a sticky situation. Now is the time where summer can’t come fast enough!

At the end of the year is when I start to wrap up all the loose ends but I also start to think about the following year. I make a list of everything that I need to get done when I return so that way I do not miss anything. I make sure that my personal laminator is within reach and that I have sheets to laminate things when we go back. I start to gather supplies for name tags, labels, birthdays etc. and place them all in one area so it is easy to navigate the classroom when I go back in. But truth be told my classroom right now does NOT look ready for the beginning of next year. So what am I going to do to get it there?

What am I going to do when I have no idea what is going to happen? Am I going to pack away everything and hope that I get to pull it out again? Will I make seat name tags? Where will they go? How many students are going to be allowed in my room at once? Do I need to have a place for students to hang masks so they don’t get lost? Who knows. But here is the truth: Anxiety gets you nowhere. Worrying about the unknown is not going to help you. So let’s dive into what we do know and how we can prepare ourselves for that!


Digital learning is here to stay.

I said it, and I mean it. Digital learning is not something that we are going to throw out the window when we return to school in the Fall. I am sure that you have discovered so many awesome apps for your students to use, and I hope that you can use them in the classroom as well. I know that I have discovered that there is a lot of digital content when it comes to my language and literature curriculum. I plan to keep that up. I am also going to continue the use of BOOM! Cards in my room. My students LOVE them and they are a great way to bring technology into the classroom.

There are also a lot of teachers who are now using Google Classroom. We can keep that up with posting assignments. We can also continue to use of Go Noodle, Class Dojo and other apps.

Engaging activities that are digital will be key.


We are creative as teachers and when we work together great things can happen. I know that when I am in the classroom I utilize small groups often. One item that was not utilized in my small groups was technology. However with the use of BOOM Cards and the apps that are offered with my curriculum I am now going to be able to offer engaging activities that are digital. The great thing about these apps as well is that I can see what student is using them and their scores. I love that element.

I have also been using YouTube a lot for read aloud stories. I think that this is something that can also engage my class in the classroom. I love read aloud stories, and I love to read to my class however there are times when they are NOT having it. Being able to have the students listen and see the story being read on the computer or Smart Board makes the lesson more fun!

Socialization will be one of the most important elements.


Kids are social beings. They love to be around each other and talk. They love to play and laugh. That is something we have to offer to our students in the event that we are called back to distance learning. One way that this can be accomplished is to offer a lunch bunch or something similar to your class. These are digital meetings where students and teacher come together to chat, have lunch, share stories and just have fun. I know that the lessons are critical and we need to get the info across but just like school in a building, students need a break! By giving them time to chat with their friends and share stories we are giving them the opportunity to have a little sense of normalcy even if it is through the computer. Language skills for the young students are also very important and this helps them with those!

Stick with what you know, and make it easier.

Here’s the deal: we have just been through 2 months of distance learning. We didn’t know what we were doing but we adapted and found ways to help save our sanity. Do not reinvent the wheel when we go back in the Fall. PLEASE. Do what works for you and try to stay consistent with what you already know. This will make it a little easier when it comes to planning. If we are in the classroom go back to the old schedule. Don’t try to make everything new because you do not want to have teacher burnout in 3 months. If you do want to get some fresh and super easy ideas check out my friend Sarah over at Little Learning Corner. She has great ideas for teachers that are low prep and easy!

Give Yourself and your students Grace.

Please remember that we are all human and what happened to us back in March was terrible. There is no other way to put it. Some of these students used school as a safe place for them and it was taken away, Many teachers walked into the building daily ready to change lives and make personal connections. That was harder than ever behind the computer screen. Let’s take a step back and remember that we are all coming back together and we are all going to struggle. It may not be at the same time, and it may not be in the same ways. Your students may be “behind” or that benchmark they need to hit might be further away than you expected but give them some grace and let them know that you are there for them. The same goes for teachers. Make sure that your colleagues are doing okay. It will be tough to get back into the classroom even though you are excited. It will be exhausting as well, but remember that it will be worth it!

We are Rockstars in education.

That is really all I have to say about that. We are rockstars. We can adapt to what is thrown at us and we can welcome back our students with open arms. Just remember that you got this!

Teacher self-care will be more important than ever.

I am a huge advocate for teacher self care. I have various blog posts about it and why I think it is so important. Be sure to check out this post about summer self care. During this time of transition it is going to be SO important for you to take care of yourself. You need to decide what you are going to do to recharge your batteries and get some rest in when you are not at work. Try your best to not work in the weekends and make time for yourself and your family. It will make a huge difference!

Pro-Tip: Low prep and NO prep are your friends!

Ready Made Digital Resources:

In my Teachers Pay Teachers Store I have a lot of wonderful resources that are low prep and no prep just waiting for you to grab. Be sure to head over there and check them out! I love to see them being used in your room as well so please be sure to tag me on social media when you use them!

Also, I am a real person and love to hear from you! Send me an email at Erin.merrill@gmail.com if you have any questions that I can answer or if you have an idea of a great blog post you want me to write!