Many trainee teachers and early career teachers often ask "What should I do before September?". My honest, gut reaction to this? REST! You will need to be well-rested for the new term and this isn't designed to frighten you or put you off joining the GREATEST profession in the world, it is entirely based on my experience! I completed my ITT in 2003/4 so if you count that as a year of experience, I am about to enter my 18th year as an educator and I still feel exhausted in the first few weeks back in September!
As a parent of a small person (she's almost 5!), my holidays are mainly spent having quality mum & daughter time... this summer, this has included "spa days", an immeasurable amount of Lego, baking, bike-riding and completing Disney+!
I set aside time just for "me" - I will go and sit in the garden and read a non-work book (currently that's Richard Osman's The Thursday Murder Club), listen to vinyl records, endlessly scroll through social media or binge-watch an entire crime documentary series!
However, all that being said, I get very "twitchy" if I do absolutely NO work whatsoever and find it hard to then properly relax. I liken it to having a pulsating briefcase in the house (think original Jumanji with the drumming board game!) that just distracts me and prevents me from enjoying downtime. Therefore, I will also allocate time for work. That's both planning & preparing my articles for here along with my usual day job work. This summer, a lot of my allocated work time has been spent digesting the Early Career Framework and writing CPD materials for that (keep an eye out in the new term for those articles!).
Realistically, our Early Career Colleagues will want to be feeling prepared (as do many of us "veterans") and there are few things you could do.
Around this time last year, I wrote Preparing for your ITT or ECT year which gives you MORE than enough to look at and read through in preparation for September, be it the start of your journey into teaching or your first ECT post. This article contains lots of pre-reading you can do to get a head start on some the things you will be expected to know/complete in the first term. There's also How to Kick Start the New School Year which will give you some tips on how to hit the ground running when you return.
If you're an ECT, take a look at my previous article on The Early Career Framework which will give you some further points to think about prior to starting in September.
The Chartered College of Teaching has an "Early Career Hub" which has a fabulous selection of helpful articles and useful resources. As a Student Teacher, you get FREE membership so I highly recommend joining (you can do so here) and ECTs can join for just £23.50 for the WHOLE YEAR (you can do so here).
In terms of "Things to Buy" - the short answer is "nothing". You shouldn't have to buy anything out of your own pocket for school, everything you need should be provided. This should include stationery and cloud storage for your school. You may wish to invest in a USB memory stick for backup, though with technology these days and as a result of Covid, most schools have robust cloud options.
If you want to... invest in a nice school bag! A few years ago I splashed out (and I mean splashed out!) on a Dr Marten's cherry red backpack and I LOVE it! You may also want to get yourself a nice pencil case and some stationery to go in it. I mean, as teachers, how are we supposed to resist all that stationery that's out there!?
I would also suggest that you invest in a water bottle and/or a sturdy, non-drip travel mug for your tea/coffee. I highly recommend the Touch Travel Mug from Nespresso and whilst these aren't cheap (they're £18!) they will last you! I am on my 2nd one and it has currently been going strong for 3 years. Still leak-proof! It goes through the dishwasher too and most importantly, the coffee I make at 7:30am is still warm at 11:00am! Ok, not scalding hot but it's certainly warmer than tepid and definitely not cold!
Another thing to do is break in your new school shoes! There's nothing worse that getting blisters from your new school shoes on that first day, please, take it from me and my years of experience, wear your new shoes around the house for a bit before September gets here. Your feet will thank you for it.
There are some things I would suggest you DON'T do though...
ECTs - don't buy anything! You don't really need anything for school! It's quite easy to get caught up in the insta-worthy classrooms (particularly if you follow our colleagues from across the pond!), but unless you know for definite what your room is (perhaps you did your ITT at the school where you'll be an ECT) and have access to it... don't worry about your room until you get there in September. Check with your school whether they provide planners - you don't always have to buy your own. Don't fill out your planner (if you've already got one) with your lessons just yet... please please please WAIT until the end of your INSET day in September! You never know what last minute changes had to be made to your timetable over the summer.
ITTs - I suggest that you invest in a planner and/or academic diary. There are lots of different planners out there of varying prices! Pirongs have a great selection (my usual go-to planner!) with just about every colour and lesson options you could want for £17.00. The Positive Teacher Company also do a specific Teacher Training planner for £14.00.
When it comes to the week before you start back, start getting your body ready for being back at work! I suggest starting with alarms to wake you up in the morning... not necessarily at "getting up for work" time (I am not setting a 5am alarm!) but it's a good idea to reduce the shock to the system.
I will leave you with this from @allaboutearlyyears - who sums it all up perfectly! Perhaps give her a follow over on Instagram!