It’s back to school time! Teaching is a passion, and even though I love summer break, I am always excited to get back into the classroom in the fall. It can be really easy, however, to let your job take over your life outside of school as well. These 5 back to school survival tips for teachers will help start your year off right and keep your work-life balance in check.
1. Reflect on the past, then prepare for the year ahead
It’s so important to reflect on last year to plan and set goals for the year ahead. I like to do this a couple of weeks into summer break, once I’ve had a chance to decompress and get a little distance from the school year that just ended.
Once that reflection time is done, it’s time to focus on this year. Think about what your rules and expectations will be and how you will share that information with families. Set goals for yourself and your students. Start mapping out a plan for your school year. Take time to collaborate with your team to share ideas and some of the prep work when you can!
Also, don’t be afraid to use the resources that others have created. The online teaching community is full of wonderful ideas and resources! Try these back to school presentations to help you share procedures with your students and families in a fun, engaging way.
2. Prepare your classroom and materials
Being organized and prepared when your students walk in is key, but it shouldn’t take over your entire life the last few weeks of summer. Focus on the things that really matter: organization and preparing for the first week over classroom decor. One way I saved TONS of decor time was to switch from an all-out theme to a simple color scheme and style. It looks pulled together and nice, but it’s easy to do!
Create a welcoming environment that students feel a part of. When they see their name on things in their new classroom, they instantly feel welcomed and at home! Be sure you save bulletin board space for first week of school activities so students can see their work on the walls early in the year.
I know that the list of things to do at the beginning of the year is long, and many of the tasks of preparing the classroom can be tedious. Grab these free back to school checklists to help you stay organized and be sure you’re not forgetting anything.
This back to school organization bundle can save you tons of time as you begin to label things in the classroom, make lesson plans, and develop emergency procedures and prepare for subs. (This ultimate bundle also includes some of the other materials I have shared here all together in one convenient place!)
3. Cultivate relationships first
Creating relationships with families early in the year is so important. Building trust and rapport with both your students and their families will have a huge impact on the success of your year! If students know you and trust you, they are more likely to take risks in your classroom and will want to work hard for you. Positive relationships with families will help students know that we are all a part of the same team.
Use digital forms to collect information from parents and families to get to know your students. Having families complete a volunteer form will help you quickly get them involved. The information sheet will help you learn about your students and their interests. And a technology survey will help you know what digital access students have at home.
4. Meal Prep the week before
Set yourself up for success. When you fuel your body with good meals, you are setting yourself up to be healthy inside and out. While prepping meals may seem to have nothing to do with surviving the start of the school year, it can actually have a huge impact on your stress, mood, and overall health.
Planning ahead for lunches and snacks to have throughout the school day will help make your mornings run smoothly. Take advantage of local grocery pick-up and delivery options to help save time (and often money). As you go through your week, if you realize you are almost out of something, add it to your online cart so you are ready for checkout anytime!
5. Prioritize rest and self-care
I fly with my kids a lot. Since I have a toddler, the flight attendant often specifically stops in my row to remind me that in case of emergency I need to first secure my own oxygen mask before helping the boys with theirs. The message here is that you can’t help others if you aren’t first taking care of yourself!
When you are well-rested, fuel your body with good food, and take time to do things that you enjoy, you are ultimately a better teacher. Use that quick trip to the restroom as an opportunity to take a few deep breaths. Spend 5 minutes of your already too short lunch break to take a quick walk. Allow yourself 7-8 hours of rest and night. And even though bathroom breaks make it tough, make a point to drink plenty of water. By taking care of yourself, you are able to be the best teacher for your students and a better spouse, parent, or friend outside of school!
These 5 back to school survival tips for teachers will help you keep work and home life both a priority. Here’s to a healthy, strong school year!