Whether you are headed to the classroom for the first time or you’re headed back in the fall to a new classroom full of students, your head may already be swimming with things to do on your back-to-school checklist. The first day of school may seem tremendously scary and exciting all at the same time, but there are ways to make life easier as you head into a new school year. Take a look at this back to school checklist to put your mind at ease.
PLUS check out my FREE Back to School Planning Guide at the end of this post.
Set Up an Inviting Classroom Environment
If you are a new teacher, this is the perfect time to create an inviting environment for your students. This is the first item to check off your back to school checklist. Purchase or re-purpose classroom objects and necessities that make students feel welcome. If you plan to have a reading corner or area, supply the students with comfortable seating. This might include cushions, flexible seating chairs, or a mini couch.
Whatever you put in your classroom, think about whether the kids would enjoy it. Many will be coming from less than ideal homes, so your classroom may be one of their only safe spaces. Make the first thing they see when they walk into the room something inviting or exciting!
Get a Jump Start on Organization
Coming back to another school year, use this time to toss out old lesson plans or printables that you no longer use. I once found myself with file folders FULL of worksheet copies that I no longer used. I spent a whole week going through them and purging anything that was outdated. I also recycled extra copies and just kept a master to save space.
If you have the space in your classroom, get some clear Rubbermaid tubs to store file folders in. You will be able to easily see inside and label your materials. Label them by season, subject, or month to make life easier.
Organize school supplies in smaller tubs with labels. These smaller containers will fit up high on shelves or in personal storage when needed. Most schools have a closet, shelves, or room where extra materials are kept.
Use these Back to School Organization Tools to get ready for meet the teacher, open house, substitutes, and the first day! These documents will give parents important information about the classroom and the school.
Prepare the Rules and Routines for Your Classroom
Before students ever enter the classroom, it is important to have an idea of the rules and routines you will implement. Your school may provide the master schedule, but if they don’t you will have to decide when you want to have each subject block. Type it out onto a schedule that will be hung on the bulletin boards around the room.
The beginning of the year is the best time to show students how to act in the classroom and how each day will flow. It’s a good idea to let them come up with the rules with you. Of course, you will have an idea of what the rules might be, but create an anchor chart for a classroom display together for accountability. The important thing is that students feel like they are part of the process and not just being told what to do.
This might be the most important item on your back to school checklist so students understand how things will work in the classroom. It also instills a level of respect from both the teacher and the student.
First Week Material Prep
It’s a great idea to prep your first week of school materials so lessons start off on the right foot. During those first few weeks of school, classroom procedures may look a little different as students get to know you and the routines. Prepare fun activities that make students feel welcome but also teach them core standards. Incorporate the new routines into the plans because you will need time to teach these at the start of the new year.
During these first days, it might be a good idea to send home a welcome letter to students and parents if you didn’t during meet the teacher or orientation night. If you have already sent these items home, you can mark them off your back to school checklist.
Day Before the First Day Prep
Make yourself a first day of school checklist so you feel fully prepared for the start of a new school year. Write down some things you will need to take care of on day one and add them to your back to school checklist. These might include:
- Student transportation
- Name tags
- Student information cards and files
- Handbook signatures
- Handing out newsletters to take home
- Your contact information for parents
- Noting whether students are packing or buying lunch
- Recording any student allergies or medical conditions
- Getting used to new student IEPs and special education services
You may also want to prepare a seating arrangement for students to put you in the direction for a successful school year. Each child will have a place or seat to call their own. Arrange student desks in a way that lets them listen attentively to lessons, collaborate with peers as needed, and get around the room easily.
Back to School Survival Tips for Teachers
If you want more information on how to survive the first week of school, check out my Back to School Survival Tips for Teachers. These tips are perfect for veteran teachers and new teachers alike and will help check off even more tasks on your back to school checklist. Prepping for the new school year might seem tough, but there are ways to make it easier on yourself! First and foremost, take a deep breath, smile, and know that this year will be amazing!
FREE Back to School Planning Guide
Still not sure where to start and feeling overwhelmed? See if my Back to School Planning Guide will help! It’s a FREE resource with:
- comprehensive checklists
- distance learning planning guide
- planning sheets
- first week planning guide
- tips and printables
- and all the resources you need to feel ready to step back into the classroom
For now, enjoy your summer break! The back to school checklist can wait just a little longer.