How I’m Preparing for the Upcoming School Year

As the new year approaches, teachers are starting to feel the pressure. What level will my students be at this year? How can I get them to grow? What can I do differently from last year? How can I be a better teacher? All of these – and more for our courageous new teachers (welcome to the party!) – begin to take hold. 

What level will my students be at this year? How can I get them to grow? What can I do differently from last year? How can I be a better teacher? All of these – and more for our courageous new teachers (welcome to the party!) – begin to take hold. 

As I begin my ninth year of teaching, I have those same thoughts. As a teacher of students with EBD, I also worry about how the summer has affected their mental health. Did they have a positive summer? Were they hospitalized? How do I recreate those bonds from last year and make news one with my new scholars to make sure they succeed? What can I do to better manage IEPs, data collection, and – oh yeah – teaching?

Luckily, I know CEC has my back.

For those new strategies and fun new activities, check out the High-Leverage Practices (HLPs) resources. I know that the many webinars, publications, and journals like TEACHING Exceptional Children and Exceptional Children will provide great inspiration and resources throughout the year as well. 

As I begin to prepare for the upcoming school year, I take it one day at a time, while still making sure I’m enjoying my summer. For example, I may spend 2-3 hours a day working on my syllabus and unit plans, and then take some time to relax. Personally, I find it best to go to the school and work in my classroom, as it just helps the creative juices flow. By being in my room, my anxieties are soothed, and I am able to visualize my students engaged in exciting lessons and growing academically, socially, and emotionally. 

As the year starts, I am also excited to continue the 365 days of advocacy that I was inspired to engage in at the 2019 Special Education Legislative Summit. This year, I plan to engage my students with the priorities of the CEC. We will even be doing activities such as writing our state and federal representatives to influence change!

I want to empower my students to take charge of their education, and the education of others. And by empowering ourselves with resources from CEC, we can empower our students to take charge of their education and grow into exemplary citizens. 

What activities do you have planned? Do you have any reservations or anxieties? Join me in the CECommunity all-member forum for a discussion.

Good luck this year, and remember, we are in this together!


Richard Williams is a special education teacher for students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD). Williams has worked in general education schools in self-contained EBD classrooms and two special education centers for students with severe EBD. He has a master’s in special education from Clark Atlanta University and is currently working towards a doctorate in special education from Cappella University with a focus on students with EBD, transition plans, and preparations for post-secondary life. An active CEC member, Williams has been a Reality 101 blogger as well as a member of the Yes I Can and Diversity Committees. Outside of the classroom, he is a plant-based lifestyle and animal rights advocate who runs a blog of book reviews and current events. In his spare time, he loves to read and go on hikes with his dog.

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