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article imageTeachers preparing for a new school year in Ontario Special

By Alexandra Christopoulos     Aug 27, 2012 in Lifestyle
Mississauga - It won't be long before students begin roaming the halls in the school Christine Starfas works in and the third grade teacher says she cannot wait for them to return to class to begin learning again.
Going into her twelfth year of teaching at Clifton Public School, it's what Starfas says she looks forward to most in September.
"It's seeing the kids excited to be in your class. New students hugging you and glad to be back at school. Knowing you are going to make a difference for the children you are going to teach," says Starfas.
Back to school is a busy time for everyone, whether you are a student, teacher or parent. But, for educators, the time leading up to the first day of classes is also whirl winding, and involves a lot of preparations.
Apart from setting up the classroom with decorations, supplies and making lesson plans, a lot of meetings are held before classes resume. Principals also usually request long range teaching plans for the year and annual learning plans, which focus on initiatives for the teacher.
Starfas says it's a quite involved process, but well worth the endeavour.
"It is always exciting setting up because it entails a new school year and a new group of children you can inspire," says Starfas. "It means a fresh start...You are always nervous because you don't know how your class dynamic will fuse together, or how the year will work itself out."
Those initial jitters though, commonly go away with time and more experience on the job, Starfas adds.
(Much like kids who begin to feel more comfortable after making new friends, or becoming more engaged with their studies.)
"Definitely, it becomes easier with more experience, as well as familiarity with a grade that you teach. You're always more nervous at the start of your career, but as you become more established, you know what is important."
For high school teacher Gus Vassiliou, finding balance is also key.
"I think the first few years of teaching was a time of trying to get a handle of how to start with a sense of something that was interesting, but not overwhelming," he says.
Vassiliou has taught English at Clarkson Secondary School for 11 years and says his enthusiasm on the job comes from thinking outside the box, making great lesson plans and a willingness to see how it all plays out.
"The process has not changed. My feelings have changed," he says, about the first few opening days in September. "I'm no longer nervous or anxious, but the enthusiasm has to come a little later...I can't actually feel enthusiastic about photo-copying basic materials to use for that first week."
Likewise, he says establishing trust with students is another significant factor.
"I want my students to trust me. That trust is actually given the first few days if I just go in there and show them that I am a decent person."
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