3 tips to get ready for Back to School

Ahhh summer break, that magical time of year every teacher thinks about during the stressful moments of the school year. Summer is the time of year that both teachers and students alike, take some much needed time to relax, recharge, and get ready for the next school year.

Somehow, summer break always seems to fly by faster and faster as the years go on! By the time you get used to your summer schedule or routine with the family, it’s time to get back into work mode again. The beginning of every school year can be overwhelming and exciting at the same time. Here are some things you can do to get ready for back to school.

1. PREPARE WHAT YOU CAN

If you are fortunate to know your class roster in advance and are confident those students will show up on the first day, labeling student materials can be helpful in getting ahead. Name tags can be personalized, as well as notebooks, folders, and pencils. These can all be set aside, ready to go for when the students arrive.

Although I do know my student names, I label very little until the first day of school for a couple of reasons.  One, there are always a couple students who don’t show up or even last minute class changes.  Two, I like labeling everything with students on the first day.  Repeating student names over and over again helps me learn their names and faces that first day.

Even if you’re not exactly sure which or how many students you will be teaching next year, you can begin to gather the materials you would like each student to have for the upcoming year. Each school district is different, so depending on how your district handles student materials, you may not even need to be concerned too much about the basic supplies. Anything else you might want for the students could be added as an extra touch to start off the school year!  I’m OCD and like everything to match.  I’m always out shopping for back-to-school deals on pencil boxes and composition books.

Every year, I make photocopies of parent letters, assemble interactive journals, and fill pencil boxes during the weeks before school starts. Whatever you can prep in advance will make that first week go so much smoother.

2. DECIDE ON CLASSROOM SET UP

I have used some fun and creative bulletin boards in the past, yet each year I always come across a new one that I would like to try. To help get ready for back to school, decide which displays or bulletin boards you would definitely like to incorporate into your classroom this year. Some bulletin boards are useful year after year, however sometimes it is necessary to change things up a little bit. Make these decisions in advance so you’re not stuck contemplating what you would like to do during the first few days back into the building.

I actually sketch out the bulletin board on paper, much like I sketch out anchor charts.  This allows me to see the big picture of it and make it all “fit together.”

Designating certain areas for the classroom has always been helpful for classroom flow and management. Before each school year begins, I like to already have a place in mind for small group work areas, reading areas, center work areas, or even the classroom library. It has been helpful to reflect on what has worked in the past. Then, decide whether to keep that area, move it, or create a new space for certain learning activities.

Have you ever thought about having students help you design your classroom?  Do they have input on what areas they would find most useful and engaging?  Each year, we do a Location and Maps unit.  During the unit, students lay out our classroom to learn how to create a grid map, but I also use this opportunity to elicit student input on our classroom design.  Of course, I get the final say, but sometimes their ideas do surprise me!

3. GET ORGANIZED

Did you leave any outdated materials, paperwork, or lessons plans in your desk over summer break? What about your classroom closet? If you’re like me, you might hang on to some materials for a while “just in case” you might need them. Take some time to decide if these materials will really be helpful to you this year or not.  I tend to do this at the end of the year, but there are always a few things at the beginning of the year that I throw out.

From what I’ve learned in the past, I tend to re-work or modify a lot of different materials each year. Keep what you think is necessary and take some time to recycle, donate, or simply get rid of things that you do not think you will be using in the future.

Don’t forget about your digital items too! Is your computer desktop cluttered? What about your work email or USB? Do you have files everywhere? Take some time to get organized. Organize materials into easily accessible folders, freshen up your classroom newsletter, class website, or create any new logs for this upcoming year. These are quick changes that you can do prior to the school year to give yourself more time during the official start of back to school.

When school is officially back in session, every teacher knows how long the to-do list grows. Carving out a little bit of time each week prior to the first day can really help save your sanity during the first few weeks of school. These tips might not seem world-changing now, but when you are back into the swing of things with beginning of the year meetings, introductions, professional development, and back-to-school nights, you will be glad you gave yourself a little bit of a head start. Try out some of these suggestions this year and see what else you can come up with to help you get ready for back to school.

Article taken from whatihavelearnedteaching.com