Many educators have already resigned from their summer fun and headed back into the classroom. For those that have not yet made the move, MindShift has provided 5 habits worth developing for when it comes time to go back to school.

1. MOVE BEYOND THE TEXTBOOK

Textbooks are by nature restrictive. The chapter order is an imposition; the information within the book is only as current as the publication date. If you can, liberate yourself from the book! If you don’t have the luxury of foregoing textbooks altogether, you can still supplement them.

The first step is to choose a destination for the resources. If your school doesn’t already use a Learning Management System like Moodle or Blackboard, there are some excellent, free resources. Edmodo looks and feels a bit like Facebook but with education-friendly features like assignment postings, quizzes, due dates, and more. If you’d prefer more customizability and care less about the aesthetics of your destination you could build a wiki with your students on Wikispaces.

2. BECOME AN EXPERT IN ONE TOOL

There are at least half a dozen apps and software for every job. Should you use Diigo, Delicious, eduClipper, Pinterest, or BagTheWeb to collect links? Is Photoshop, GIMP, Pixlr, or FotoFlexer the right photo-editing software? It’s overwhelming, and there really is no single right answer. (For the record, though, Diigo is great because of its iOS app and GIMP works well because it’s both free and powerful.) So pick one class of tools and become a ninja in how to use one of the leading tools in that class. Skills from one platform are transferable to the others. You will benefit from learning everything about whatever tool you choose.

3. READ ABOUT ALL THINGS EDUCATION

In the middle of the school year, a good novel sounds much more compelling than a book on education. But books on pedagogical theory can influence your instruction in meaningful and enduring ways even if they are short on immediate, practical advice. Reading books about math pedagogy have helped educators teach more linear, logical concepts like cause and effect analysis using timelines or even Roman battle strategies. Here are some favorite books from a summer reading list:

Scaling Up Success
Education Nation
The Students Are Watching
Reinventing Project-Based Learning

4. REVISIT YOUR HOMEWORK STRATEGY

Flipping is not just for math. The essential justification for flipping – that is, utilizing technology to redistribute tasks between homework and classwork to make both more meaningful – can benefit any class. Are there individual activities that you could turn into homework in order to devote more attention to students in class? Is there a tangential class discussion that you want to continue but can’t justify doing during precious class time?

To flip your lectures, you’ll need some kind of software. Camtasia is the crème de la crème of flipping software, but it’s expensive. An alternative is to film your lecture with your phone, edit it with Windows Live Movie Maker or iMovie, and post it to Youtube as an unlisted video, and use the discussion board to allow your students to ask and answer questions.

5. MAKE A PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SCHEDULE

A formal principal used to tell the kids: “Ask for it and you just might get it!” The same sentiment applies to teachers. Funds are limited in every school and they become increasingly scarce as the school year progresses. Get your requests in now. Look for major conferences in your nearest city and peruse the blogs, Twitter, and EdSurge for other educators’ assessments of previous year’s events. To demonstrate your genuine commitment to regular PD, also “attend” some free webinars such as these from ASCD or these from EdWeek. Watch TED talks about education and peruse Teaching Channel for lesson plan inspiration. Your administrators will be more inclined to encourage your continued learning, and you will get that much-needed “shot in the arm” on a regular basis.

If you haven’t ventured back into your classroom yet for another school year, take the time to read up on these helpful tips! MindShift has provided 5 easy ways to stay ahead! Read the full article here.