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Dedicated to Teachers

Back to School 2015: Setting The Course For A Successful Year


Welcome back to school! Heinemann Professional Development is excited to continue an online PLC (professional learning community) as we get back in the swing of school this fall. Look for new content each week and join in the conversation! This week, Patty Vitale-Reilly sets the course for a successful year.

Setting the Course for a Successful Year

by Patty Vitale-Reilly

How lucky we are to begin anew each fall!—our own “do-over” as educators. This week Patty Vitale-Reilly asks us, “You remember the childhood do-over, don’t you?”

Some of the first things teachers consider when preparing for a new school year are the physical space or creating a positive group dynamic. An essential element of the classroom is, no doubt, the culture. But what are the building blocks to positive classroom culture? What will sustain the power of the “do-over” beyond a beautiful, functional, physical space?

“Culture matters. Before we can expect academic success, we must attend to social, cognitive, and emotional elements.”

In this week’s article, Patty shares ideas connecting two building blocks for the solid foundation of positive classroom culture: the emotional and cognitive elements of the environment. As you read, look for any practices that you have already tried in your classroom and reflect upon their effect on its culture. Which ideas have you not tried yet?


Often, teachers ask the question: When will I be able to fit this in? Keep in mind that the efforts you invest at the start of the year can contribute to creating routines to sustain this type of positive environment. Perhaps you’ll need to revisit these routines during the year, but you will have created a foundation upon which you and your students can return, a foundation built on positive beginnings.

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Wondering where to connect online? Start by signing up below for Heinemann's Online PLC 2015–16! Each week, we'll share content from the Heinemann Digital Library as food for thought and discussion. Our conversations can occur in comments here on the blog, on Twitter using #OnlinePLC or in our Facebook Group. Looking forward to a year of sharing content, conversation and #OnlinePLC camaraderie!

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Topics: Education, Education Policy, Heinemann, PD, PLC Series, Back to School, Patricia Vitale-Reilly, Professional Development

Date Published: 09/28/15

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