Tips for Planning the New School Year

Join us as we share tips and tricks to help your last minute planning for the new school year.

We’ll share resources, ideas, and websites you’ll want to check out. These will make life a little easier as you embark on the journey.


Tip #1 - Grow Your PLN

Tip #2 - Collaborative Lesson Planning

Tip #3 - Connecting with Parents

Tip #4 - Digital Classroom Management Suggestions

Tip #5 - Celebrate Success in Virtual Space

Tip #1 - Grow Your PLN

Want to avoid feeling alone and overwhelmed? Get connected via social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, Voxer, and/or Pinterest. Each presents a different angle for you to learn from, or with, others.



  • Get a Twitter account and include a professional picture. In your Twitter profile, describe yourself as an educator, including your grade level.
  • Remember that Twitter will let you grow a professional learning network (PLN)
  • Use education hashtags of relevant to your work and interests and find what people are discussing online. For example, go to to find out about #tcea topics

Setup an account via your mobile phone or via the Web


Take advantage of Voxer, a walkie-talkie type app that many have compared to Twitter. Voxer relies on audio, and hundreds of educators speak to each other every day.

See the list of Voxer groups, as well as join New Teachers to Voxer to ask questions and get started. Voxer Educators also have an annual Edcamp event, EdCamp Voice. Follow @mguhlin on Voxer if you need help.

Awesome Blogs & Podcasts

Educators from around the world are authoring and producing awesome blogs and podcasts. Below, you'll find 5 of my favorites, designed to inspire and motivate.

Keep Track of Everything

Trying to keep track of everything? Get Pocket on your mobile device and your computer so you can save and organize everything online. Really, it will keep you sane! And, it can read to you when you are in the car.

Simply save blogs, web sites, whatever to Pocket, then view each one and tap the Text To Speech (TTS) option.

View tutorial for Pocket TTS on Android, iOS, Mac and Windows.

Tip #2 - Collaborative Lesson Planning

Lesson planning and teaching are no longer solo endeavors. Teaching is a team sport featuring committed team members, referees, fans, and more. Take advantage of online collaboration tools to make collaborative lesson planning easier.

Google Suites for Education

Take advantage of Google Docs and Sheets to facilitate collaborative lesson planning. Check out this 2nd grade collaborative lesson planning example from an inner city, urban school district.

How could you use Google Docs and/or Sheets to collaborate on lessons?

Microsoft OneNote

Office 365 school district? Use Microsoft OneNote to make collaborative lesson planning a breeze! See this tutorial (prepared for OneNote 2016/Desktop, but you can do much of the same with the free OneNote app for Windows 10/Macintosh/iOS/Android) for lesson planning ideas. See video tutorials, OneNote for Teachers.

How could you use Microsoft OneNote to collaborate on lessons?

TEKS Resource System

Working in K-12 public schools in Texas? Then you may want to refer to the TEKS Resource System, which provides ready access a variety of resources. Find tutorials for the TEKS Resource System online.

Other handy links include:

Texas Gateway

If you’re constantly looking for resources to help students better understand the four core subject areas, then the Gateway portal is what you need. This free website offers outstanding content for grades K-12.

Learn more about Texas Gateway


Get access to free curriculum guides and other resources. Their resources include these topics with supporting documentation:

  • Content builder
  • Data tools
  • Accountability
  • Performance standards
  • Learning Videos and more

Tip #3 - Connecting with Parents

Keeping parents informed about their child’s progress is a critical, and can make a huge difference in that child’s learning. Parent involvement in a child’s academic life has a positive impact and can motivate students to learn and behave appropriately.

Want to build a deeper connection with your students’ parents and enjoy additional buy-in and input from them? Consider using one or more of these tools to help support that communication process.

  • Google Forms / Microsoft Forms – Forms allows you to collect information electronically to avoid those problems. And using Google Sheet add-ons such as AutoCrat, formMule, or Yet Another Mail Merge enhance your form.
  • Remind – Remind lets parents and students join a list to receive your texts.
  • Google Hangouts – Google Hangouts is a quick way to have virtual office hours or an online open house that lets parents “visit” you without dealing with some of the barriers.
  • BuzzMob – Make communicating with parents easy with this tool that has tons of features. Share assignments with push notifications. Send updates and reminders. Add events with photos, videos, and chat with multi-language translation.
  • PuppilAsset Parent App – If your school uses PupilAsset, then have your parents download the free parent app that connects them with their child’s attendance, behavior, progress data, and regular school reports.


Email updates to parents are a great opportunity to connect. Be sure not to violate FERPA rules when it comes to them however (it will vary depending on your state and district policies).

“There is good reason to believe that emails, texts, Tweets, and other digital communications between teachers, administrators, parents, and students about students are not student records unless they are maintained in the student’s file,” points out this blog entry.

Remember to be professional in your communications and take care when entering emails for parents. It wouldn’t do to mix up updates for one student with another’s parent/guardian.

Tip #4 - Digital Classroom Management

The goal of any virtual classroom system (a.k.a. learning management system), involves providing a suite of online tools that empower students and staff to connect, create, collaborate, and facilitate organization. Your district or campus may already have a "go-to" solution that you are required to use. If not, consider adopting one of the following depending on your school's choice of digital ecosystem (e.g. Google or Microsoft).

Google Classroom

Classroom helps teachers create and organize assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently, and easily communicate with their classes. Classroom helps students organize their work in Google Drive, complete and turn it in, and communicate directly with their teachers, and peers. It also features parent support.

Getting Started | Watch this brief video overview

Microsoft Teams

Explore Microsoft Teams, which provides a wealth of features for building a virtual classroom with assignments. Teams integrates with Microsoft OneNote and Class Notebook.

Class Dojo

This tool is designed for elementary students. Many educators and parents love Class Dojo. It is reported as a great tool to help students monitor their behavior throughout the day/week. Make sure to get approval for use of this tool from your school district.

Tip #5 - Celebrate success in Virtual Space

Don't be afraid to celebrate student success. Here are a few ways to accomplish that.

New Google Sites

Rely on this easy to create and customize tool for building a website that you can share links to resources, snapshots of projects, and more.

Some teachers even create student portfolios using the New Google Sites. This requires Google Suites for Education.

Microsoft OneNote Online

Use Microsoft OneNote Online notebook to create an easy to manage website. Create a section for major projects and share student work online. See examples.

Microsoft OneNote allows you to create passworded sections, too, in case you want to restrict access. This requires Office 365 for Education.


Teachers create grids of short discussion-style questions that students respond to through recorded videos. Flipgrid boosts community and social presence in face-to-face, hybrid, and online classrooms.

Give your students a voice. Learn more at Watch video overview

Additional Resources

1 - Icebreakers

Get to know your students this year by trying some digital icebreakers.

2 - Internet4Classrooms

Internet4Classroom provides some great resources to get you a great start to the new school year. These resources include : classroom forms, bulletin boards, classroom management tips, and many more.

3 - Lesson Plan Page

This website provides some very good lesson plans, tools, and ideas for you to start your school year. It also features some awesome articles on the topic.

4 - Activity Village

Activity Villlage has a Back to School page where you can find tips, tricks, and ideas that you can use to make sure everything goes smoothly for the new school year.

5 - Starting a New School Year: Nine Tips for Collaboration

This is a great article from Edutopia that features nine tips for collaboration for starting a new school year.

TCEA Tech Edge Blog

The official blog of the Texas Computer Education Association is the perfect place for educators to find advice on today’s modern education strategies. From cool tools to education legislation, TCEA has got information for teachers in Texas and across the country.

Grab your lunch and join us online each week in this free-to-member webinars as we discuss topics of interest to all educators.

Bring your ideas to share and meet new friends and colleagues.