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A successful start to the school year: thoughts and expert advice

This week thousands of teachers are discovering the curious and enthusiastic faces of the students they will accompany for the next ten months. Today we offer you an interview with our back-to-school expert.

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This week, thousands of teachers are discovering the curious and enthusiastic faces of the students they will accompany for the next ten months. It is a pivotal moment for both young people and adults. At École branchée, we are starting this school year with great happiness and motivation to offer you varied content adapted to your needs!

Today we offer you an interview with our back-to-school expert. Associate professor in the Department of Specialized Education and Training at UQAM and author of numerous books in the field of education and methodology, Gérald Boutin pursues research on inclusive education, support for new teachers, troubled childhood and the school-family relationship. He agreed to answer our questions in order to provide you with some avenues for action and reflection:


Can you tell us about the challenges teachers face at the start of the school year? What do you think are the winning conditions for a successful start to the school year?

The challenges faced by teachers regarding the start of the school year are quite numerous. Among those most often cited by the teachers themselves, let us note that of establishing good contact with children and parents, that of knowing in time the composition of the group of students, and finally that of s. '' ensure that you have the necessary tools for the proper functioning of the class.

Among the winning conditions, priority is given to short, medium and long term preparation. This preparation, if well orchestrated, helps to lower tension and increase self-confidence, which all teachers need given the growing demands on them.

What opportunities accompany this moment of start-up, of renewal?

The start of the new school year is seen by many teachers as an opportunity to set up new ways of approaching their task, to experiment with new approaches. It is an opportunity for renewal, for development. Unfortunately, these opportunities are sometimes reduced for structural reasons: late class assignments, scarcity of support staff, etc.

How is the start of the school year an important period in relation to school perseverance?

Even before returning to class, a good number of school teams looked into the thorny issue of school failure and the dropping out of too many young people. The start of the school year is a good opportunity to review current practices in order to adapt them as best as possible to the needs of the students. Just think of the heterogeneous composition of the classes… School perseverance takes root in the first years of school life. The aphorism " prevent rather than cure »Makes sense here! A good start in preschool and elementary school most of the time ensures the quality of the steps to come.

Tell us about the impact on school success of integrating ICT in education and pedagogy.

The impact of the use of ICTs on academic success is an increasingly debated topic. There are often opposing attitudes, whereas it would be advisable to adopt open and critical positions. The digital wave is here to stay: like any innovation, it has advantages and limits. The teachers, for the most part, seem to me open to this trend, but they rightly demand adequate training. As one observer recalls: “ The role of ICTs should not be overstated, nor should they be belittled ". Wanting, for example, to put ICT before the teacher-learner relationship would be counterproductive… A connected school must retain its status as a human school!

A few days before the start of the school year, teachers often feel nervous and restless? What advice would you like to give them so that they get the most out of this moment?

This excitement and nervousness are part of the game, so to speak. Most of the teachers I know live with this tension, while stressing that over time things take on smaller proportions. It is for everyone to take their marks to ensure a good start. This tension is normal… It concerns everyone: parents, children and of course, teachers and management. It is a feeling of both joy and worry: joy to come back to work after a well-deserved vacation, to experiment with new approaches, to meet colleagues, but also in some cases, worry about the proper functioning of the classroom, adaptation to a new environment.

The literature contains a lot of advice for teachers regarding the start of the school year.

Here is 5 tips for a successful start to school : 

  1. Familiarize yourself with the teaching program to be taught
  2. Find out about the composition of your class or classes (we know that many teachers do not know the composition of their class until very late)
  3. Plan a communication strategy with parents
  4. Plan your educational activities (at least for the first few weeks) in order to be better able to establish good contact with the students
  5. Take the necessary means to manage stress (relaxation, discussion with colleagues, for example) 


The École branchée is happy to have been able to count on the collaboration of Professor Gérald Boutin in the preparation of this article on back to school. We invite you to discover the writings of this author, in particular his essay on education published in 2012 by Éditions Nouvelles entitled The school war: between transmission and construction of knowledge.

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