Share My Lesson

New Year, New Students

teacher looks at resources on a classroom computer

The beginning of a new school year is a time to establish the classroom community and routines that help students learn and thrive. And all educators—whether leading a classroom for the first time or returning after many years of teaching—can draw inspiration, ideas, and support from Share My Lesson’s collections of back-to-school resources. 

The newest collection, New Year, New Lessons, is full of professional development offerings and other practical strategies to help educators design the first weeks of class, create a supportive classroom environment, and deliver instruction that aids in academic recovery. Additional resources from the related Mental Health Awareness and Social-Emotional Learning collections provide tools to help students navigate the emotional challenges associated with pandemic loss, the negative influence of social media, and learning frustrations.  

Building a Supportive Classroom Community

A successful school year must begin with safe, welcoming classrooms that support all students in learning. Three professional development webinars have been recently added to guide both new and experienced educators in building a caring classroom community. All are designed by long-time educators and are available on demand for PD credit.

In “Take Your Classroom Back: Starting the New Year with an Authority of Care,” educators reflect on the five bases of power commonly used to lead classrooms and learn how to lead from a caring, solutions-oriented position that celebrates, affirms, and prizes the well-being of each student. “Managing the Differentiated Classroom” provides guidance for overcoming the time and classroom management challenges that educators encounter when designing learning activities that help all students succeed. And “Understanding Learner Variability with Culturally Responsive Practices” addresses classroom strategies that consider the whole child and value the differences that make each student unique. Through reflective exercises and demonstrated classroom activities, educators learn how to make students feel safe, comfortable, and seen in the classroom and how to include families and caregivers as partners in students’ learning.

Educators can extend their learning in these trainings with “Building Parent-Teacher Partnerships,” a guide for engaging with parents and caregivers throughout the year to improve teacher-student relationships and enhance student learning. Resources include tips for calling or meeting face-to-face about student progress, a checklist for parent-teacher conferences, and ideas for organizing open houses and other events to encourage caregiver involvement in learning.

Supporting Students’ Well-Being

In the last year, educators have seen increasing signs that the pandemic did not just exacerbate academic challenges for students—their social-emotional needs are greater than ever, which affects students’ ability to learn and thrive. Share My Lesson’s Mental Health Awareness and Social-Emotional Learning collections offer tools educators can use beginning on the first day of school to foster student well-being and establish a solid foundation for successful learning. 

“On Our Sleeves” is an emotional empowerment program for grades 1–8 by Share My Lesson partner Young Minds Inspired. The program teaches the five stages of emotional empowerment to help students in grades 1–6 improve emotional awareness and learn strategies for coping with stressful feelings. For students in grades 5–8, the program also highlights empathy and self-care strategies and encourages daytime breaks to support mental wellness.

“Creating A Peace Place,” a lesson from SML partner Operation Respect, can be adapted for all K–12 students to learn to manage their emotions independently and decrease disruptive classroom behaviors. The lesson emphasizes strategies that interrupt the body’s fight-or-flight response and shows students how to create a “peace place” to calm themselves in times of stress. 

Many more resources are available in these collections to help educators prepare for a successful school year. And for more professional development specifically focused on back-to-school topics, see

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[photo: SolStock / E+ / Getty Images]

American Educator, Fall 2022