Back to school time is hectic for every teacher, and they all have to-do lists more than a mile long! In this post I’ll share ways to be proactive and important tasks you can tackle ahead of time. Here are ten things teachers can do before the first day that will set you on track for a successful new school year.
Plan Your Classroom Arrangement
The goal of any classroom layout should always be to ensure students have the best learning environment possible. Keep this in mind when you are determining the layout of your classroom. Make sure students have room to move around and that there are no hidden areas. You need to be able to see all parts of the classroom from your desk and your guided reading table. Also, make sure you have easy access to the books and materials you use daily.
- Position teacher desk and seating
- Arrange classroom desks or tables
- Position carpet area
- Organize classroom library
- Arrange classroom furniture
- Establish center areas
- Create a bulletin board to display student work
- Plan subject area bulletin boards
- Post class schedule
- Plan for supply storage
Organize Classroom Supplies
During the first weeks of school, it can seem like you have a mountain of supplies in your classroom. To ensure that supplies stay organized you need to plan ahead. Consider investing in some clear tubs, baskets, or other small containers as well as labels. Keep supplies you use most often in an easy to accesss spot.
- Organize and label teacher supplies
- Plan for student supplies that are communal- these may not come in before school starts
- Organize teacher files
- Arrange curriculum materials
- Label textbooks
- Organize teacher desk
- Label classroom library books
If you can get your class roster before school starts, label everything you can with student names of numbers. This will save you time later on. Things to label are:
- Classroom cubbies
- Class jobs
- Lunch cards
- Computer cards
- Name tags for students to wear the first day
- Sticks (or anything you use to call on students randomly)
- Books bins
- Desk name plates
Develop a Classroom Management Plan
Classroom management and behavior plans are crucial to the success of any classroom. Plan how you will communicate expectations for your students. Decide positive reinforcement stratgies when expectations are met and consequences for when they are not. Positive behavior reinforcement and classroom consequences should be something that will realistically work for you. Tailor this to fit your strengths as a teacher so that you are successful, and in turn, making your students successful. Align yur classroom policies to your school and district policies.
Develop Classroom Routines Before the First Day of School
Routines are an essential part of any successful classroom. Developing routines and procedures give students autonomy, limits interruptions to instruction, and enables your classroom to run smoothly. Before the first day of school, plan basic routines that students will need immediately and develop additional ones as the need arises. Be mindful to tailor your expectations to your students, classroom and grade level. Decide what students will be able to do on their own without permission and what will need approval from you.
This post explains ten routines & procedures to teach the first day. These are procedures you and your students will need right away and use most often. Download the free checklist in the post to help you plan.
Decorate Your Classroom
It’s exciting to finally have your own classroom! When setting up and decorating your classroom, keep it simple. You do not have to have everything done before the first day of school. You can make changes and add things later. The goal of decorating a classroom is to create a warm and inviting learning environment, however, functionality and organization are important. Read this post for tips on setting up an organized classroom.
Decide on a classroom theme or choose colors that works well together. Using a specific color theme creates a calm and cohesive feeling in your classroom.
- Hang classroom posters
- Make student name plates for desks
- Bulletin boards with matching borders
- Front door
- Welcome sign for hallway
- Teacher name sign for hallway
- Teacher board with pictures
- Birthday board
- Alphabet chart
- Number line
This post is filled with ideas for using a flexible chalkboard and burlap combination to create a neutral colored theme, a farmhouse theme, or a rustic theme.
Prepare for Meet the Teacher Night
Meet the Teacher Night can be as overwhelming as it is exciting. Plan ahead to ensure a successful open house, collect the student information you need, and manage parents confidently. I like to copy all of the parent forms and pull as much as I can before I leave for the summer. I pack these things last, so I can pull them out first. Click HERE to learn how to plan a stress-free Meet the Teacher Night and the things you will need to consider.
It can be overwhelming as families flock to your classroom and you meet your new students for the very first time. Plan how you will manage parents, supplies students bring, and siblings that accompany your new families. Consider setting up stations for parents to visit so you can collect the information and forms that you need.
This post is filled with great tips on how to manage Meet the Teacher Night plus where to get ready to use parent forms and freebies.
If your school requires you to give a parent presentation, learn what to include in a Meet the Teacher PowerPoint in this post. It details what to include in a Meet the Teacher presentation and has links to templates you can use.
Plan your First Day of School
My best advice for the first week of school is to over plan! Allow plenty of time the first day of school to teach routines and procedures, organize supplies, plan read alouds, plan getting to know you icebreakers, etc. I’ve written a post with a sample schedule as well as lots of freebies to help you plan the first day of school. Click the link for a FREE First Day of School Lesson Plan. Download the free getting to know you activities in the post, and a sample first day schedule to help you plan.
Develop detailed, specific plans for the first week. This will ensure there are no gaps in your schedule where you have to scramble to fill time. It’s always better to be over-planned than under-planned. If you don’t get to something you can always do it the next day.
Click HERE to read about the most perfect first day book ever and see how I use it the entire first week of school! I made an animated read aloud on YouTube, so now you dont een need the book! Click here to watch!
Consider printing copies of your plans and placing them by your door, on your desk, and on your guided reading table. Make any copies you’ll need for the week ahead of time. You’ll have enough to do without making copies every day. As you work through your lesson plans during your first week, make a note of what worked well and what didn’t, what you would improve or change for next year.
Familiarize Yourself with Emergency Procedures
Your school will have specific procedures for different emergencies and drills. Make sure you are familiar with these procedures. Ensure that you know what to do in a fire drill, earthquake drill, lockdown, etc. Consider posting emergency procedures by the door and teach them to students the first week of school.
Allow Time for Self-Care Before the First Day of School
It’s important for teachers to take care of themselves and to be proactive before school starts. Consider making time for yourself to relax before the first day of school. Teacher stress is high during the first weeks of school and can continue throughout the year. Planning ahead and allowing time for yourself can help to keep you healthy.
- Do something to relieve stress (massage, manicure, exercise, date night)
- Pick out clothes for the first day of school
- Pack your lunch the night before
- Drink plenty of water
- Set your alarm clock
- Get a good night’s rest
Teachers have a lot to do before the first day, but these ten tips will help to set you up for a succcessful new school year! Help another teacher by sharing this post on your social channels!